EastBridge Partners’ efforts to raise its third blind-pool fund have been badly affected by the cautious stance of existing investors and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The Seoul-based private equity firm is expected to hold a first close for its third fund in December, with the final close expected next year, more than a year later than initially planned, industry sources said.

Marketing of the fund began in the summer last year with a goal of raising between $400 million and $500 million by the end of 2019. Its predecessor raised $300 million in 2016.

“EastBridge Partners is likely to hold a first close at about half the fundraising target,” said an industry insider.

The fund was marketed primarily to existing investors, including those from the Middle East. However, it took longer than expected to secure capital commitments because of their cautious approach to investment. The pandemic also hindered fundraising efforts.

EastBridge Partners joined the competition with other eight managers earlier this year for an investment mandate from Korea Development Bank and Korea Growth Investment Corp. This marked a change in its fundraising strategy, because it had not participated in such competitions until last year.

The mandate focused on domestic companies in materials, parts and equipment sectors. But the firm failed to win a mandate despite its track record in those sectors, including investments in electronic parts supplier Crucialtec and construction machine parts supplier Daesung Hitech.

“I think going forward EastBridge Partners looks likely to continue its attempts to win mandates from domestic institutional investors through competitions,” the insider said. (Reporting by Byung-yoon Kim)