The Carlyle Group announced yesterday that it had closed Carlyle Asia Growth Partners III (CAGP). The $668 million fund will continue to invest in growth capital companies across China, India, Japan and Korea.

Carlyle also manages Carlyle Asia Venture Partners I ($159 million) and II (US$164 million), which were launched in 2000 and 2002, respectively. Together, the two earlier funds have invested in 37 companies and realised 12 investments. Globally Carlyle has $39 billion under management and a focus on buyouts, venture and growth capital, real estate and leveraged finance. Since 1987 Carlyle has invested in 463 transactions.

Carlyle has Asian offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Seoul and Tokyo. Wayne Wen-Tsui Tsou, managing director leads the Asia initiative. The new fund, CAGP III has already closed investments in three companies across the target geographies - $20 million in Claris Lifesciences, an Indian pharmaceutical company, $25 million in Credit Orienwise, a Chinese private credit guarantee company and $27.5 million in Anxin Flooring, a manufacturer and distributor of wood flooring in China.

On the occasion David M Rubenstein, Carlyle co-founder and managing director says, ôWe are delighted with the strong support from our investors and their endorsement of our investment strategy and track record. Asia is a key focus of our global business.ö

Elaborating on CarlyleÆs investment philosophy Tsou comments: ôWe look for companies with outstanding management and track record, differentiating and proven business models, as well as large potential markets. And we believe this is the best investment approach to bringing superior returns to both the companies and our investors. The ultimate value creation will also benefit the local industries and economies.ö

Carlyle has closed a number of deals in Asia since its focus on the continent was defined and cashed in on some of these. Among CarlyleÆs high profile exits in Asia was South KoreaÆs KorAm Bank in 2000 which it subsequently sold to Citigroup for a price that is considered one of the largest private equity exits in Asia. In Japan in early 2005 Carlyle sold majority stake in Asahi Security to Toyota Industries. In China Carlyle announced two investments in quick succession in the last quarter of 2005: first acquiring a 85% stake in Xugong Group Construction machinery and then a 25% stake in China Pacific Life, ChinaÆs 3rd largest life insurance provider. In India Carlyle invests through both a venture capital arm and a private equity arm.