By Sumeet Chatterjee and Julie Zhu
HONG KONG (Reuters) - Blackstone Group LP said it has raised about $9.4 billion for two new funds - the largest-ever fund dedicated to real estate investments in Asia as well as its first private equity fund for the region.
The funds add to a massive industry-wide pool of money for Asian acquisitions and investments, with investors attracted by rapid economic growth compared to other major markets.
It raised $7.1 billion for what it called its second regional "opportunistic" real estate fund. Growing urbanisation and rising incomes, particularly in China and India, have boosted investor appetite for shopping malls, warehouses and other property assets.
Blackstone's real estate business was founded in 1991 and has about $120 billion in capital under management. The portfolio includes hotel, office, retail and industrial properties in the United States, Europe, Asia and Latin America.
Its first Asia-focused property fund, which closed in 2014, raised $5.08 billion.
The Asian private equity fund closed at about $2.3 billion, Blackstone said, adding that it now has at least $3.8 billion to invest in Asia equity when "associated commitments" from its global buyout fund are counted.
Roughly two-thirds of the private equity fund, as well as the contribution from its global fund, will be used to invest in China and India, said one person with direct knowledge of the matter, declining to be identified as details of the investment plans were not made public.
The fund will focus on buying controlling or significant minority stakes in sectors such as healthcare, high-end manufacturing and services, as well as goods and services geared to consumers who want to upgrade their lifestyles, people familiar with the plan told Reuters last year.
Blackstone, whose previous private equity investments in Asia were from its global funds, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on its capital deployment plans.
Hong Kong-based private equity firm PAG is planning a new Asia fund that aims to raise as much as $6 billion.
Last year, a total of 342 funds raised a combined $107 billion in Asia, according to data provider Preqin.
(Reporting by Sumeet Chatterjee and Julie Zhu; Additional reporting by Kane Wu; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)
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