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Baring Private Equity Asia raising new $6 billion fund: Reuters

HONG KONG (Reuters) Hong Kong-basedBaring Private Equity Asiais aiming to raise $6 billion in a new Asian fund, as investors hungry for growth in emerging markets fuel a regional fund-raising bonanza, five people with knowledge of the matter said.

Barings seventh and largest Asia fund to date is expected to close in eight to 12 months, said one of the people, who could not be named as the information is confidential. Baring declined to comment.

Global and regional private equity firms have raised a total of $48.2 billion in Asia-focused funds this year, already surpassing 2016s full-year amount of $43 billion, according to data providerPreqin.

The surge comes as investors worldwide continue to allocate capital to catch growing market and economic momentum in countries including China and India, pushing up the average fund size.

Barings new Asia fund would be the biggest in the region sinceKKRclosed a record $9.3 billion Asia-focused buyout fund in June, surpassing similar fundraising efforts by global rivals such asCarlyle GroupandBlackstone Group.

Carlyle is reaching first close for a planned $5 billion Asian buyout fund, while Blackstone is seeking to raise up to $3 billion in its first pan-Asia buyout fund, aiming to lock in the first-tranche of investment by the end of 2017, sources familiar with the matter have said previously.

Chinese firmsPrimavera Capital GroupandCITIC Private Equityalso plan to raise new dollar-denominated funds of about $2.8 billion and up to $2.2 billion respectively.

Baring Asia, one of the largest regional funds, is busy striking deals alongside fundraising. It is nearing a deal to acquire language teaching business Wall Street English fromPearsonfor $350 to $400 million, in a consortium with CITIC Capital Holdings,Reutersreported in October.

The firm has also submitted a first-round bid forTrimco International Holdings, a garment label maker owned by Switzerland-based investment firmPartners Group, according to a person with direct knowledge.

The company could be valued at over $600 million, according to sources involved in the transaction.

Baring and Partners Group had no comment on the deal.

Baring started operating its first Asian private-equity fund in 1999 at $305 million, and over the years has grown into one of the largest independent investment firms in the region with over $10 billion of committed capital. Its last fund was raised in 2015 at $4 billion.

Its portfolio companies include UK-based homeware and fashion brand retailer Cath Kidston, corporate services firm Vistra Group and state-controlled Chinese company COFCO Meat Holdings , in which it has a minority stake.

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