SAIF Partners raises new fund

SAIF Partners, backed by Japan’s Softbank, has completed raising about $233 million (or 1.6 billion yuan) to invest in China-based companies, according to sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

Major investors include Chinese private enterprises and some top-end domestic individual investors, said the sources.

“Despite the tough market environment, there is still demand for investments in such yuan funds from rich Chinese entrepreneurs,” said one of the sources.

SAIF declined to comment. The sources said that an official announcement could be made as early as next month.

China has at times been at odds with global private equity firms, thwarting moves by foreign investors that have vied for stakes in industries deemed to be strategically sensitive.

But Beijing has pledged all year long to develop private equity funds, especially yuan-denominated funds run by domestic managers, to reduce companies’ dependence on bank financing amid the global credit crunch.

To encourage growth in domestic private equity sectors, Chinese securities regulators also granted approval to about a dozen Chinese brokerages to set up their own private equity businesses this year.

Among them, the newly established private equity arm of CITIC Securities, China’s top brokerage, aims to raise about $880 million (or 6 billion yuan ) for its first yuan-denominated fund.

SAIF Partners is one of the most high-profile and earliest of private capital firms in China. It manages more than $2 billion in funds, according to industry market researcher Zero2IPO.

For its U.S. funds, Softbank is not the only foreign investor. Investment bank JPMorgan, Princeton University and Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing are also its limited partners. —George Chen, Reuters