BC Partners steps up fund-raising drive

European buyout house BC Partners is gearing up marketing for one of the year’s most eagerly awaited new funds, aiming to raise $7.37 billion, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The firm, which recently listed German chemicals distributor Brenntag and travel reservations group Amadeus, has sent out information to new and existing investors in recent days, one of the sources said.

BC is hoping to raise about the same size of funds as it did at its last fund-raising effort in 2005, when it raised about $7.2 billion.

Investors had received a draft private placement memorandum over the last few days, usually the start of a fund-raising drive, according to one of the sources said, but as the document is a draft, it allows investors to renegotiate terms.

Formal fund-raising documents will be sent to investors in the autumn, with the firm hoping to reach a first close at about the end of the year, a separate source said.

BC Partners declined to comment.

BC Partners—seen as a bellwether for the health of the fund-raising market—has been warming up investors for some time, courting potential new financiers in the Middle East and Asia, including sovereign wealth funds.

The firm’s ninth fund comes as the private equity industry begins to thaw after nearly two years frozen out of large-cap deals by a lack of credit and market volatility.

The fund-raising climate remains tough, however, and funds are still taking longer to raise than at the height of the buyout boom.

Cash-strapped pension funds and endowments, particularly in North America, have reined in commitments to private equity, forcing firms to reach out to more new investors. —Simon Meads, Reuters