Argus reaches target

Argus Capital Group, a subsidiary of the Prudential Insurance Company of America, has announced the final closing of its $172 million private equity fund. Argus Capital Partners will be targeting companies in Central and Eastern Europe. It exceeded its target amount that was set between $150 million and $200 million. The fund will focus on Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, but will also consider potential investments in Slovenia, Croatia, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Baltics and Turkey. There are ten investors in the fund, with the largest chunk coming from North America and the remainder spread out between Western Europe, the Middle East and the Far East.

The main focus will be on development capital, management and institutional buyouts, joint ventures with strategic investors, privatisations, roll-up strategies, pre-IPO financing and recapitalisations of companies. Average size of investments will be between $5 million and $25 million.

Commenting on the focus of the fund Ali Artunkal, managing director of Argus Capital, said the Central and Eastern European region has a great industrial tradition and is a market that is growing fast. He added that the fund will focus in particular on underdeveloped industries such as packaging, media and entertainment, telecoms, consumer goods and services, privatisations, speciality retail and export-oriented firms such as automobile parts and chemicals.

The fund is expected to invest its capital over the next three years. It has already made seven commitments including Fibernet, a leading Hungarian cable television operator; a joint venture with Pizza Express plc, which has already opened several casual dining restaurants in Poland and will be expanding across the region; and Svoboda, the second largest commercial printer in the Czech Republic. There are also several more deals in the pipeline that are due to complete within the next few months.