* Partners strikes first buyout in China
* Savera earns around 80 pct of revenue in China
* Deal values Savera at around $433 million (Adds background on Savera, context of buyouts in China)
By Stephen Aldred
HONG KONG, Aug 18 Swiss investment manager Partners Group Holding AG has agreed to buy the majority of China-focused elevator guide rail maker Savera Group for around 2 billion yuan ($325 million), people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
The buyout would be the asset manager's first in China and would give it control of Spain-based Savera which began life focused on Europe but which now generates 80 percent of revenue in China, the world's most populous country.
Savera, founded in 1967, hired financial adviser Business Development Asia (BDA) to sell a stake of around 75 percent. Savera's founders would retain the remaining stake, the people said.
A spokeswoman for Partners declined to comment, while BDA did not respond to requests for comment. Savera could not be reached for comment. Sources declined to be identified as they were not authorised to speak publicly on the matter.
Partners had 33.8 billion euros ($45 billion) in assets under management at the end of June, and invests money in private equity, infrastructure, debt and real estate. To earn higher returns, Partners is expanding into Asia by investing in companies directly, with its latest deal valuing Savera at around $433 million.
Partners' Savera investment is the latest in a series of deals where suitors have taken advantage of a trend towards selling controlling stakes in businesses either based in China, or with significant exposure to the world's second-biggest economy.
That trend has been fuelled by owners long being unable to exit businesses by listing on Chinese stock exchanges because of a recently ended suspension on new listings as part of market reform.
AAC Capital UK is looking to sell Strix Group Ltd in a deal that could value the maker of home appliance safety systems at $500 million. The sale is likely to draw interest from Chinese buyers, because of the company's growth in the country.
Chinese growth represents the future of many such niche businesses. Private equity firms and corporate buyers are seeking opportunities to leverage European technology and combine it with Chinese demand, according to bankers.
For Baar-Zug, Switzerland-based Partners, the latest deal continues the expansion into direct investment by funds - sovereign wealth funds, pension funds and even mutual funds - in search of higher returns.
($1 = 0.7485 euro) (Reporting by Stephen Aldred in HONG KONG; additional reporting by Elisabeth O'Leary and Paul Day in MADRID; Editing by Denny Thomas and Christopher Cushing)