ASIA IN BRIEF 2009-01-01 Staff Writer Global private equity firm <bold>The Blackstone Group</bold> has signed a memorandum of understanding with the W229 trillion ($183 billion) National Pension Service, to invest up to $2 billion alongside it in undervalued stocks, bonds and real estate in the K

Global private equity firm The Blackstone Group has signed a memorandum of understanding with the W229 trillion ($183 billion) National Pension Service, to invest up to $2 billion alongside it in undervalued stocks, bonds and real estate in the Korean financial market. Just three weeks earlier, the National Pension Service agreed to two similar deals with Seoul-based private equity firm MBK Partners and distressed investment specialist Oaktree Capital Management.

The private equity arm of CIMB Group, Malaysia's second-largest financial services provider, is forming a $70 million oil and gas joint venture with a subsidiary of Alam Maritim Resources, an owner and operator of offshore vessels. CIMB Private Equity and Venture Capital will hold a 51 percent stake in the new Alam-PE Holdings, which plans to acquire five vessels to support moderate and deepwater exploration activities off Malaysia in the near term.

David Lai has retired from Asian buyout firm Affinity Equity Partners, where he was a co-founder, at the age of 47. Lai joined UBS Capital Asia, which later spun out to become Affinity, in 1996 where he oversaw its day-to-day operations, including building its buyout business. In 2007, Affinity closed its second fund, Affinity Asia Pacific Fund III, with $2.8 billion in commitments.

Dubai-based Evolvence Capital has hired Ashok Ramaswami to head a newly hired team of investment and advisory professionals based in India. Ramaswami previously led investments and managed financial and operational initiatives at US venture capital firm Blumberg Capital, prior to which he helped develop five business units for Cisco Systems. Evolvence is the sponsor and cornerstone investor of the Evolvence India Fund, the first independent fund of funds focused on Indian private equity, real estate and infrastructure.

Darby Overseas Investments, the captive private equity arm of Franklin Templeton Investments, has raised a $147 million fund targeting the Indian retail market. Working in conjunction with the San Francisco-based investment manager, Darby will invest in high growth, mid-sized unlisted companies throughout India, according to a statement from the firm.

London-based Intermediate Capital Group has closed its second Asia Pacific fund, Intermediate Capital Asia Pacific Fund 2008, with $1 billion in commitments. Seventy-five percent of Fund II's commitments came from existing LPs, Tom Attwood, ICG managing director, said in a statement. The Intermediate Capital Asia Pacific Fund 2008 will primarily make direct mezzanine investments in the financing of mid-market leveraged buyouts in Asia Pacific. The fund was reportedly $500 million short of its target.

South Korean private equity firm STIC Investments has closed its second secondary direct fund on approximately $369 million. The STIC Secondary Fund II, which held a first close in December 2007 on $136 million, will acquire private equity portfolios that include growth capital, buyouts and special situations. The fund is 60 percent focused on Korea, with the remainder focused on Taiwan, China and Japan.

Asia Alternatives, a Hong Kong-based funds of funds manager, has closed its second fund on $950 million, nearly double the size of its predecessor. The firm said it will invest with top-quartile managers diversified across strategy, vintage year and asset class in China, Japan, Korea and India. It will also consider opportunities in Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand. CP Eaton served as the placement agent for the fund, which had an initial target of $850 million.

Creditors of struggling Korean home appliance maker Daewoo Electronics have chosen New York private equity firm Ripplewood Holdings as the winning bidder for the company. Daewoo is owned by creditors, and its largest creditor, Woori Bank, said in a statement that Ripplewood beat out a consortium of Diligant Systems and Russian investors. Woori did not provide financial details about the deal.

NewYork-based Patriarch Partners has invested $80 million into Xinhua Finance Media (XFMedia). XFMedia's three business groups, broadcast, print and advertising, cover a wide range of assets including television, radio, newspaper, magazine, outdoor and online assets. The company is headquartered in Beijing and has offices and affiliates in cities such as Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong.