Stewart Binnie, former head of Schroder Finance Partners, is utilising his financial services investing experience in a new independent fund. ForTrust Fund 1, LP will target enabling technologies in the financial services, healthcare and energy sectors. Approximately two-thirds of the fund will be invested in Spain, with the remainder most likely destined for companies in the UK and France.
“Financial services, energy and healthcare all have certain characteristics in common. Principally they are all undergoing reorganisation, account for a disproportionate amount of European and global IT spending and are all growing rapidly,” says Binnie. The fund is looking to invest in enabling or enterprise technologies, such as software, middleware, communications and services that support these industries. ForTrust is not looking for early stage businesses but those with developed technology and paying customers.
“As an investment location Spain is really interesting at the present time. It is strong in certain technologies and has a group of family-owned Mittel stand companies, currently seeking development capital or a change in ownership, which have attracted a lot of buyout attention. It is also the key to South America.” Binnie believes ForTrust will appeal to investors who have insufficient exposure to Southern Europe and Spanish investors who want to invest in Spain but also gain access to outside expertise and other markets. He hopes to complete the fund’s first deal in around two month’s time.
ForTrust has already secured the backing of Deutsche Bank, which provided $2.5 million to finance the fund’s initial activities and enabled a first closing in November. Ultimately Binnie hopes to raise $50 million to $75 million by October, including an additional $2.5 million from Deutsche Bank when the fund passes the $25 million mark. Fund raising began last month in the US and Spain. ForTrust is targeting three groups of investors: fund-of-funds, strategic investors (utilities and financial services companies looking for new technologies and new customers) and technology providers.
ForTrust has offices in London, where Binnie is based, and in Madrid where the firm has two partners: Nicolas Goulet and Roberto Saint-Malo, formerly with the Latin Rim Fund. Goulet, previously with the Monitor consulting group, contacted Binnie shortly after he left Schroders in July. Akbar Ayaz in New York, who Binnie worked with at Schroder Finance Partners, will sit on ForTrust’s investment committee.