KKR expands in Asia, armed with $1.1 bln credit fund

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Trading information for KKR & Co is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., August 23, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

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SINGAPORE, May 25 (Reuters) - KKR (KKR.N) has raised $1.1 billion in its inaugural Asia credit fund that provides debt financing to companies, marking what the U.S. private equity firm said was one of the largest such first-time fundraisings in Asia Pacific.

Private credit funds have gained traction in Asia in the last few years as companies tap into alternative sources of funding though banks still account for the bulk of financing. Investors are drawn to credit funds due to potentially higher returns.

KKR said in a statement on Wednesday the Asia Credit Opportunities Fund, which saw its final close, received strong support from investors including sovereign wealth funds, insurers and private investment groups.

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"There is an imbalance of available financing for Asian businesses at a time when the region's growth and prosperity have fuelled an enormous demand for more flexible funding solutions by borrowers looking to seize opportunities," said Brian Dillard, head of Asia Credit at KKR.

KKR invested more than $100 million alongside external investors through its balance sheet and employee commitments.

The fund aims to target investments mainly in "performing privately originated credit" and tap opportunities across three primary investing themes, including senior and unitranche corporate lending, subordinated corporate lending, and asset-based finance investments.

Large private equity funds and investment firms have also launched Asia-dedicated credit funds, with some of them focussed on distressed opportunities.

KKR said it has made 14 credit investments in Asia Pacific since 2019, totalling $2.4 billion, including acquisition financing and bespoke capital funding for companies and financial sponsors. About a dozen were from the latest fund.

KKR manages about $184 billion of credit assets globally.

Since setting up its presence in Asia Pacific in 2005, KKR now has about 300 senior advisers and executives in the region, including about 10 dedicated credit specialists.

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Reporting by Anshuman Daga; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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