Apax takes first step to reaching $13B

Apax Partners Worldwide has closed $212 million of a proposed $13.1 billion fund, according to a recent regulatory filing. More than half of the close is from the Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System, which approved a $133 million investment in the fund in January.

The new fund would be more than double the $5.36 billion that the firm raised for Apax Europe VI, its previous fund, which closed in 2004.

Fund-raising for buyout and mezzanine funds in Europe has slowed over the past several quarters. Ten funds raised $11.8 billion during the first quarter of 2007, down from the 21 funds that raised $17.3 billion during the same period last year, according to data from Thomson Financial (publisher of PE Week).

Still, firms such as Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. are beginning to talk about raising new European funds. One KKR limited partner recently told PE Week that it was meeting with the firm to discuss re-upping for a much larger European vehicle.

Nevertheless, the new Apax will represent the last chance for investors to back a European-only Apax fund. The firm has told LPs that it intends to scrap its region-focused funds, which include the United States, Europe, France and China, as it forms a single global fund when it next hits the fund-raising circuit. Such a strategy is in line with that of other large buyout firms, such as The Blackstone Group, Permira and TPG.