IL&FS Investment Managers Ltd has announced the first close of Standard Chartered IL&FS Asia Infrastructure Growth Fund at $568 million. The fund has been co-sponsored by Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd (IL&FS) and Standard Chartered Bank (SCB). Both the institutions have invested $150 million each in the fund.

IL&FS Investment Managers said that it expects to achieve a final close later this year. The fund has a final target of between $800 million and $1 billion. This would be the first case of Indian fund managers raising a fund with a pan-Asia focus.

The fund made its maiden India deal last month by picking up a 5% stake in IL&FS Transportation Networks (ITNL) for Rs 130 crore, valuing the firm at Rs 2,600 crore ($520 million). The fund's close comes after IL&FS announced close of its real estate fund above target at $895 million. IL&FS is one of India's oldest private equity firms and has about $1.9 billion under management.

The Singapore-based fund invests in sectors like energy and power, telecom, transportation besides environmental and social infrastructure. In May 2008, the fund invested $82 million in China Water Holdings.

India's infrastructure needs investmet of about $500 billion in the next 5 years and many private equity funds have raised funds to invest in this opportunity. IDFC Private Equity closed its third fund at $700 million last year, and 3i Group of UK raised a $1.2 billion India-dedicated fund for infra. There are several global funds also looking at India like $4 billion Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners (MSIP), and Goldman Sachs and KKR who are also raising global infrastructure funds. State Bank of India, Macquarie and IFC are also raising a $2 billion infrastructure fund.

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