India-focused Baer Capital Partners expects to raise around $300 million for a second private equity fund and plans its first exit by floating a power distribution company, its chief executive told Reuters.

The Dubai-headquartered investment firm, which also operates a hedge fund in India, said one of its portfolio companies, A2Z Group, has sought Indian regulatory approval for an initial public offering that it expects to launch by December.

"Here's a company that has grown phenomenally since its inception. It's one of those stories which tells you why India is such a great investment story," said Brij Singh, Baer's co-founder and chief executive.

A2Z Group's other investors include high-profile Indian businessman Rakesh Jhunjhunwala and private equity firm Lexington Partners.

Baer Capital's $200 million Beacon India Private Equity Fund has investments in companies ranging from power distribution to coffee chains and online art auction house, Singh said, adding that it was important to have a diverse portfolio for private equity investments in the region.

"The spectrum of investments is diverse. It's difficult to operate a PE fund in India if you are myopically focused on one sector," said Singh, 46, who has also worked for Merrill Lynch and Julius Baer.

The company also has a $150 million special purpose vehicle which it manages with Goldman Sachs in India aimed at tapping real estate opportunities.

Baer Capital plans to raise an additional $300 million for a second private equity fund and aims to approach investors later this year, the CEO said.

"We are nearly three-fourths close to being invested and we have some deals in the pipeline which will result in us running out of capital. So our investor base is urging us to raise additional money," Singh said.


Baer Capital operates a hedge fund in India named Beacon India Alpha Equity Fund, which it launched in August 2008.

Singh said its hedge fund likes pharmaceutical, cement and information technology (IT) stocks as growth plays which may benefit from the "India story". He said the fund was staying away from real estate and commodity-related stocks as it sees oversupply in these sectors curbing future growth.

"I am not sure if the real estate sector is due for a correction but the concern is that there is significant oversupply in the market. At this point, I don't see a significant upside in the short term," he said.

According to Eurekahedge, India hedge funds were the best performers so far this year, returning 4.62 percent as of the end of July. Eurekahedge estimates that hedge funds operating in the region manage about $5 billion in assets.

Singh believes that the market will see larger global names entering soon and smaller firms like his will need to differentiate itself.

"A manager sitting in London or New York may think it's risky to cross the road on Mumbai's Nariman Point during heavy traffic. For us, that's a way of life.

"So it's how you look at risk and the way you look at it is the way you price risk. We pay our managers to price risk."

India's hedge fund industry is not as developed as other markets in the United States or Europe when it comes to the number of investment tools and strategies available for managers. Typically hedge funds prefer to use sophisticated investment techniques such as arbitrage and option strategies to reduce their risk.

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