ASK to close offshore fund over 50 percent short of target– Exclusive

The Mumbai-based investment manager has decided to close its maiden offshore real estate fund at around $100 million.

ASK Property Investment Advisors, the Mumbai-based private equity real estate firm, will be closing its first offshore blind-pool real estate fund at less than half of the initial fundraising target.

PERE has learnt that the firm is planning to wrap up fundraising for the ASK India Real Estate Special Opportunities Fund by the end of this month. By then, the firm expects to reach a second and final close of $100 million. The capital has primarily been raised from global family offices and retail investors.

The firm had initially set out to raise between $200 million and $300 million for the fund that was first brought to the market in the beginning of 2013.

PERE understands the decision to close the fund short of its original target was made in response to demands of existing investors in the fund. Indeed it has been over two years, including a hiatus period from capital raising, since the firm announced the first close of $50 million in January 2014.

Sunil Rohokale, ASK Group’s managing director and chief executive officer, told PERE the firm decided not to “run after the next $100 million” and instead start deploying the capital.

“Holding on to fundraising is not a good idea. The existing investors need to be respected. The [Indian] real estate market is now beginning to shape up. ASK has a good record domestically, with 21 investments and six full exits,” he said, further adding that the firm might consider launching a second offshore fund in 2017 or 2018.

The fund close will bring to an end a long-drawn-out capital raising process that, in ASK’s own admission, has been a challenge. After the January 2014 first close the firm put fundraising on hold for a year because of “international investors’ resistance of investing in India post the global financial crises,” Rohokale had told PERE in an interview last year.

It was in late 2015 that ASK resumed marketing the fund to prospective investors. In October, 2015, the firm also brought on board Evan Gallagher to lead its international capital market activities for real estate, as well as other businesses including listed equity and private equity. Gallagher, formerly the chief executive officer of IDFC Capital’s Singapore operations, was appointed as the chief executive officer and executive director of ASK Group’s Singapore operations.