Korea Development Bank (KDB) and Korea Growth Investment Corp (K-Growth) have released their shortlist of candidates for New Deal fund mandates, with competition most intense in the category of funds worth less than 120 billion won ($108 million).

KDB and K-Growth received proposals at the end of last month from 84 firms, including private equity (PE) firms, venture capital (VC) firms and asset managers.

They chose only 15 of the 37 applicants for the shortlist of mandates in the category for funds worth less than 120 billion won.

A total of 11 companies submitted mandate proposals for the new deal growth category, and six contenders – a consortium of Opus PE and NH Investment & Securities, E&F PE, EUM PE, Corstone Asia, Q Capital Partners and Crescendo Equity Partners – were chosen to advance to the next stage.

The category of funds worth over 120 billion won was the least competitive of the three segments. All five firms that submitted proposals, including a consortium of WWG Asset Management and VL Investment, and a consortium of BNW Investment and Kiwoom PE, were included in the shortlist.

“The new deal growth category and the category of funds worth less than 120 billion were expected to be very competitive,” said one source. “Given that the number of shortlisted candidates is normally twice the number of available spots, firms that applied for the two categories are expected to continue to face heated competition.”

KDB and K-Growth plan to conduct on-site due diligence this week, followed by interviews, with final selections expected before the end of February. Letters of commitment are likely to be issued in April, and funds created at the end of October. (Reporting by Byung-yoon Kim)