Carlyle seeks new Asia fund

The Carlyle Group is raising a new Asia buyout fund with a target size of up to $3 billion as the private equity giant aims to tap into more deals in Asia, two fund industry sources recently told Reuters.

The Washington D.C.-based firm has been in talks with some potential limited partners for the last few months, and the target size of the fund is between $2.5 billion and $3 billion, the sources said.

The fund will focus on Greater China and Southeast Asia, where Carlyle has already expanded aggressively in the past few years, the sources said.

The sources are institutional investors who have been briefed on Carlyle’s plan and declined to be identified. Carlyle declined to comment.

The fund would be Carlyle’s third Asia-dedicated buyout fund and its biggest such fund in the region.

The firm raised $1.8 billion for its last Asia buyout fund, which closed in 2006 and which has invested in China Pacific Insurance, China’s No. 3 life insurer. Carlyle became China Pacific’s first foreign investor and now holds about 17% of the Chinese insurer.

China Pacific, already listed on the stock exchange in Shanghai, is planning a $3.5 billion public listing in Hong Kong later this year. The public sale will help Carlyle to sell part of its holdings to make it a showcase for its investment success in Asia.

“It’s all about track record and I think it’s perfect timing for Carlyle to raise a new buyout fund as the China Pacific IPO [in China] has already attracted a lot of attention,” one source said.

In June, Carlyle said it raised more than $1 billion for its fourth Asia growth capital fund with a focus on China, India, South Korea and other Asian emerging markets.

Early this year, Carlyle raised a new $13.7 billion U.S. buyout fund despite a poor market environment in the worst financial crisis in about 80 years.

Usually, it takes about a year for a firm to complete raising a new fund. Carlyle spent 14 months raising its new Asia growth fund. —George Chen, Reuters