Audax holds off on next fund

The slow deal-making market will likely force buyout and mezzanine investor Audax Group to delay the fund-raising process for Audax Private Equity Fund IV until sometime in early 2010, despite the Boston-based firm’s previous plans to begin marketing the new buyout fund in the fourth quarter of this year.

Terms of the firm’s current buyout vehicle, Audax Private Equity Fund III, state that the general partner cannot begin marketing a successor fund until fund III is at least 70% invested. At present, that fund is only about 53% deployed, according to co-CEO Geoffrey Rehnert.

The firm closed fund III in 2007 with $1 billion in commitments.

Although a target for fund IV has not yet been finalized, Rehnert said the new vehicle will likely match fund III’s capitalization of $1 billion.

The firm’s most recent buyout activity was its June acquisition of the U.S. and Mexico guarding operations of Garda World Security Corp., a provider of uniformed security, consulting and investigation services, according to Audax Group’s website.

Though fund-raising appears to be on hold for Audax Group’s next buyout fund, the firm’s sub-debt group is moving forward with its next mezzanine vehicle. Audax Mezzanine plans to hold a first close on its $750 million-targeted Audax Mezzanine Fund III by the end of the year.

Audax Group invests in small cap and lower-middle market companies across a wide range of industries, including security services, industrial manufacturing and business intelligence software. Transactions include leveraged buyouts and recapitalizations, corporate divestitures spin-offs and roll-outs.

Audax Group invests equity of $10 million to $100 million in transactions valued between $15 million and $250 million. The firm has more than 95 investment professionals in Boston, New York and China.

Audax Group’s first buyout fund, Audax Private Equity Fund I, a 2000 vintage, had a net IRR of 11.8% and an investment multiple of 1.3x, as of March 31, 2009, according to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System. —Nancy Gordon