Unison Capital says raising $581 mln for new Japan fund

HONG KONG/TOKYO, March 12 Wed Mar 12, 2014 6:52am EDT

HONG KONG/TOKYO, March 12 (Reuters) - Japanese private equity firm Unison Capital is raising 60 billion yen ($581 million) for its fourth fund, with demand for capital from buyout firms expected to grow as companies look to expand their businesses.

The new fund is considerably smaller than Unison's third fund of 140 billion yen raised in 2009, and answers a question investors have about how much demand there is for private equity deals in Japan. Unison was forced to shrink the third fund in 2011 by around a quarter as deals dried up in Japan.

The investment period on the third fund ends in August, a spokesman for Unison told Reuters.

Unison is also raising a separate fund of around 250 billion won ($234.71 million) to invest in South Korea, its first won-based fund, said Tatsuo Kawasaki, a partner at Unison, at the PEI Asia Forum in Hong Kong on Wednesday.

South Korea has seen an increase in private equity-backed M&A deals, helped by economic and political stability, a steady domestic stock market, and a stream of buyout targets being churned out by foreign and local conglomerates.

Unison's recent flagship transaction is a sale of a sushi restaurant chain Akindo Sushiro Co to global buyout firm Permira for about $1 billion in 2012. ($1 = 103.1850 Japanese Yen) ($1 = 1065.1500 Korean Won) (Reporting by Stephen Aldred in HONG KONG and Junko Fujita in TOKYO; Editing by Ryan Woo)