Mirae Asset Securities is distributing a cleantech private-equity fund to Korean institutional investors on behalf of Sustainable Asset Management (SAM), a specialist investor affiliated with Dutch firm Robeco.

Korea-based Auctus Investment Partners has also joined the effort as a strategic partner, given its expertise in the cleantech industry. Auctus manages the country’s first (and largest) cleantech private-equity fund, in conjunction with Industrial Bank of Korea.

The SAM portfolio invests in funds or industrial companies that deal with technology used in the renewable energy, recycling, water and agriculture industries.

SAM argues that cleantech funds perform well compared to broad-based peers, that the private sector’s prospects are supported by government assistance in many countries, and that the productive and responsible use of natural resources improves the performance of underlying companies.

“Mirae Asset sees the potential of CT PE investments and has therefore decided to be the official distributor and partner,” says Kim Seung-hoe, director of financial products consulting at Mirae Asset Securities.

Jeroen Van Wilgenburg, managing director at Robeco Asset Management for Korea and Japan, says: “The reason we see such good opportunities in Korea is due to the ‘Green Growth Initiative’, which has been strongly backed by the Korean government.” He adds that the firm has registered the fund with the Financial Supervisory Service to enable it to be marketed to institutional investors (but not in the retail market).

“There is a shift we see from Korean institutions to start allocating to long-term investment opportunities and themes. It is the knowledge-sharing relationship we wish to establish,” says Van Wilgenburg.

The Robeco-SAM Clean Tech Private Equity III fund aims to raise $500 million around the globe and Robeco hopes to attract as much as $100 million in investments from Korea. The fund will invest in 20 private equity funds, some direct investments and at least 10 secondary PE funds, says Andrew Musters, global head of private equity at Robeco. The fund will close by the second quarter of 2011.

Musters adds that the new fund’s managers have considered investing in Korean clean-technology companies. He did not elaborate on the names, but says he will look into some Korean energy-efficient power-production companies for this fund.