– Crescendo gives NeSBIC CTe foothold in Silicon Valley

NeSBIC, which set out to raise e150 million ($145 million) for its Converging Technologies & e-Commerce Fund (NeSBIC CTe Fund) now expects to close the vehicle a100 million above target on 20 April. The fund, which has a stronger focus on e-commerce than its predecessor but will continue an active pursuit of opportunities in underlying communications services and enabling IT technologies, is expected to be significantly oversubscribed even at its maximum level, according to managing general partner Robert Wilhelm.

Fortis, the fund’s sponsor, is providing a a50 million commitment and has been joined by international institutional, corporate and private investors. Wilhelm declines to name other fund investors at this stage but says: “We have some big ones coming in to what is an excellent quality shareholder base there is so much interest in this asset class at the moment”.

Alongside the current fund raising project NeSBIC has put in place a co-location agreement with Crescendo Ventures which gives the Dutch group a foothold in Silicon Valley. Following the final closing, one member of the CTe team will transfer from Utrecht to Crescendo’s Palo Alto base to co-ordinate links between the two groups. The partners aim to leverage each other’s local expertise to help develop transatlantic opportunities for their investees. Crescendo was an investor in the first CTE Fund but, because it has since established its own European operation, headed by Roeland Boonstoppel (EVCJ February 2000, page 16), it will not commit to the new fund. The alliance between Crescendo and NeSBIC CTe Fund offers strong possibilities for co-investment but Wilhelm stresses that the strategic relationship is not based around exclusivity and that co-investment opportunities will be evaluated on a deal-by-deal basis.

In late February, the NeSBIC CTe Fund announced that it had taken a significant participation’ in LetsBuyIt.com, a pan-European e-commerce business based on co-buying’, which enables members to band together to buy products or services at lower prices by bypassing local consumer markets. Launched in Sweden last April, LetsBuyIt.com has expanded into Germany, the UK, France, Norway, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Spain and Italy.