HONG KONG Oct 26 (Reuters) - Private equity fund KKR & Co LP plans to launch a new pan-Asia fund to raise up to $6 billion in the first quarter of 2012, two sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters, underlining the global buyout industry's bullish view on Asia's economic growth.
KKR is not as far progressed with its plans as TPG Capital LP , which set a mid-October launch date for its Asia fund of up to $5 billion, or Bain Capital, which is already raising a new Asia fund of at least $2 billion.
A KKR spokesman declined to comment on the firm's fundraising plans.
Private equity firms around the world had found it tougher to raise money since the global economic downturn in 2008, but 22 percent of private equity funds currently raising investment capital globally had Asia-Pacific as their primary focus, Preqin said in a recent report.
That figure was just 9 percent in 2008, and Asia now rivaled Europe for investor dollars -- Europe accounted for 23 percent of fundraising capital, according to Preqin.
For a related Factbox on Asia private equity fundraising, click here:
The sources, who declined to be named because the discussions were private, said KKR's initial target was $4 billion, but the firm would raise as much as $6 billion.
Founded in 1976 and with a global portfolio employing over 900,000 people and generating more than $200 billion in annual revenue, KKR invests in Asia through a $4 billion fund raised in 2007 and a $1 billion China growth fund.
KKR's existing Asia fund is among the largest ever raised by a private equity firm for the region, along with a $4.12 billion fund raised by CVC Capital Partners Asia in 2008, and TPG's $4.25 billion TPG Capital Partners V fund raised in 2008, data provider Preqin says.
KKR's 2007 fund was more than 70 percent invested, a separate source said, encouraging the firm to launch the new fund.