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KKR raises $2.8 billion for second global impact fund

FILE PHOTO: Trading information for KKR & Co is displayed on a screen on the floor of the NYSE in New York

By Greg Roumeliotis

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Private equity firm KKR & Co Inc has completed raising money for its second global impact fund dedicated to investments that advance sustainability and social equity, amassing $2.8 billion.

Ken Mehlman and Robert Antablin, the fund's co-heads, told Reuters in an interview that more opportunities to deploy capital led to the firm attracting commitments from investors for more than double its first $1.3 billion impact fund raised in 2020.

"The resiliency of our portfolio and growth in our strategy reflect the tailwinds in our business," Mehlman said.

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The tailwinds include the transition to cleaner forms of energy, the recycling of resources in the supply chain and the push by companies to develop their workforce, Mehlman added.

To fall within the impact fund's scope, investments must advance one or more of the United Nations 17 sustainable development goals in a measurable way. The impact fund can invest in companies alongside KKR's other private equity funds, though in the majority of its investments it is the sole KKR fund participating.

KKR's global impact team, which has grown from four people when it launched in 2018 to more than 20, so far has made 18 investments.

Among them are: CoolIT Systems, which allows data centers to reduce energy use with cooling liquid; CMC Packaging Automation, which curbs consumption of packaging materials through custom designs; Graduation Alliance, which helps high school dropouts earn high school diplomas; and Five Star, which promotes economic opportunity by lending to small businesses in southern and central India.

KKR's first impact fund was worth 1.6 times its investors' money as of the end of June, according to the New York-based firm's most recent quarterly earnings disclosure.

"We target middle-market private equity returns in line with our other businesses," Antablin said.

KKR has adopted other initiatives in separate funds that advance economic savings. Its private equity platform, for example, has awarded billions of dollars' worth of stock to all employees of 35 of its portfolio companies since 2011, in a program dubbed 'Ownership Works,' which gives equity to employees of portfolio companies, even if they are rank-and-file.

(Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Will Dunham and Aurora Ellis)