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ECI raises £430m for fund nine

UK mid-market firm ECI Partners has closed is ninth fund on £430m, beating its target of £400m and brings the capital under management to over £880m.

The fund launched in September, and is a significant increase on its predecessor fund, ECI 8, which raised £255m in April 2005. Commitments were received from a total of 27 investors, with over 90% raised from existing investors.

Managing director Steve Tudge said: “The success of fundraising for ECI 9 has surpassed our expectations given the challenging conditions of the past three months. We are delighted that over 90% of the ECI 9 capital has been committed by existing ECI investors showing the loyalty of our investor base, some of whom will now have invested in the last six successive ECI funds since 1990.”

The firm’s latest vehicle will continue to follow ECI’s well-established investment strategy. It will target niche, market leading business with strong growth potential, focusing on companies with an enterprise value of between £10m and £150m.

ECI made two acquisitions in 2008. In May it bought a 60% stake UK online media company i-level Group (ilG) in a deal which valued the company at just over £45m.

In June the London-based firm took pharmaceutical services company Premier Research Group (PRG) private from AIM.

ECI’s last exit came in December 2007, when it sold Bounty, a UK parenting club aimed at new and expectant mothers, for £70m to Kaboose, a family-focused online media company based in Toronto, Canada.

Tudge is optimistic ECI can outride the economic storm: “Having provided finance to more than 250 companies over the last three decades, our team has a wealth of experience in generating value at different points in the economic cycle. That, combined with the continuation of our successful investment strategy, created an excess demand from investors. We are looking forward to maintaining the strong performance achieved by our previous ECI funds by investing in niche market leading businesses.”

The ECI 9 fund raising effort was led by Tudge, fellow managing Sean Whelan, and investor relations director Jeremy Lytle.