By Kane Wu
HONG KONG (Reuters) - Chinese private equity firm Boyu Capital, an investor in Chinese technology titans including billionaire Jack Ma's Ant Group, is raising a new, China-focused fund targeting as much as $6 billion, three people with knowledge of the matter said.
Its fifth and largest U.S. dollar-denominated fund is likely to close in the near term, said one of the people, who declined to be identified as the information is confidential.
Boyu did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The fundraising by a firm widely associated with tech startups amounts to a high-profile test of investor appetite at a time when heightened oversight of China's tech giants clouds the near-term outlook of those companies.
It follows authorities' November suspension of Ant's Shanghai and Hong Kong dual listing, which delayed the hefty returns early investors such as Boyu could have expected from the world's biggest initial public offering (IPO).
The financial technology giant was set to raise $37 billion at a valuation of $315 billion. Since the suspension, China has sharpened oversight of its home-grown champions which has also exposed their investors to more public scrutiny.
A central bank official said Ant's IPO was suspended to safeguard consumers and investors. Ant has since agreed a restructuring plan with regulators, Reuters reported this month.
Boyu was founded in 2010 by, among others, Alvin Jiang, grandson of former President Jiang Zemin. The firm has offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore, and invests in consumer and retail, financial services, healthcare and media and technology sectors, its website showed.
It is known for its 2012 investment in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd which helped Ma buy back half of Yahoo! Inc's 40% stake in the e-commerce firm, Reuters has reported.
At $6 billion, Boyu's new fund would be one of the region's largest focusing on China. It last raised $3.6 billion in 2019.
Past investors include Hong Kong's richest man Li Ka-shing and Singapore state investors Temasek Holdings Ltd and GIC Pte Ltd, Reuters has reported. The New York Common Retirement Fund has also been an investor, showed the website of the state comptroller.
Private equity managers in Asia raised $108 billion for 481 new funds last year, down 45% by dollar value from 2019, showed Preqin data, as the COVID-19 pandemic dampened fundraising.
Activity has picked up in 2021 with $21 billion raised via 56 funds so far, the data showed.
Boyu invested in Ant's $4.5 billion fundraising in 2016 and $14 billion funding round two years later. In the interim, Ant's valuation leapt from $60 billion to $150 billion.
The private equity firm has invested in other booming Chinese tech and healthcare startups in recent years that generated lucrative returns，two of the people said.
Portfolio firms include ride-hailer Didi Chuxing, artificial intelligence (AI) firm MegVii and live-streaming app operator Kuaishou Technology, according to media reports and public information.
In January, it participated in a $700 million fundraising by AI firm 4Paradigm, Dealogic data showed.
(Reporting by Kane Wu; Editing by Sumeet Chatterjee and Christopher Cushing)