Access Capital soars past target

Paris-based fund-of-funds manager Access Capital Partners has closed its Fund IV Growth Buyout Europe at €425m, exceeding its initial target of €300m.

The vehicle will seek opportunities in private equity funds that invest in growth-orientated small and mid-market buyouts, as well as special situations. The fund’s investment strategy focuses on growth and operational improvements of companies rather than relying solely on financial engineering

Investors come mainly from Germany, France, the Nordic countries, the UK and Benelux. Commitments have already been made to 15 underlying funds including three special situation funds and two sector-focused mid-market buy-out funds.

One recent beneficiary of Access’ investment was Kennet Partners, the UK technology growth investor which raised €200m (see opposite page for more details), and Wellington Partners IV Technology, which closed on €265m at the beginning of the year.

In a release, the firm said “The close, above the initial target of €300m, validates Access’ investment strategy focused on sustainable European growth-orientated small and mid-market buyouts and special solutions, segments that have shown strong resilience despite the credit turmoil and economic uncertainties.”

The fund follows Access’ third fund, which closed at €307.4m in 2007, beating its initial target of €250m. Commitments came mainly from investors based in France, Finland, Germany, the UK and Benelux and were made to 14 funds including three secondary positions that attracted strong liquidity.

It has been a busy summer for Access. As well as closing its latest fund the firm also has new owners. One of the firm’s original backers, Nordic private equity investor CapMan, ended its involvement by selling its remaining stake to N+1 Group, a Spanish alternative assets manager.

CapMan was one of the original backers of Access when it set up shop in 1999, and initially held a 47.5% stake in the Paris-headquartered firm. It started to wind down its commitment in June 2006 when it sold 12.5% of its shares to Access managing partners.

The remaining 35% has now been sold in a deal which will see N+1 own 50% of Access through a special purpose vehicle in which managing partners have also invested. Collectively, they now own 56.5% of the business.