Fidelity Equity Partners being shut down

Fidelity Investments, the world’s largest mutual fund firm, said last week that it will shut down Fidelity Equity Partners, its small private equity unit, next month because the financial crisis has made it difficult to access new capital.

The 2-year-old unit controlled about $500 million in assets, a fraction of the $1.25 trillion managed by its privately held, Boston-based parent. The unit did not invest funds raised from LP commitments.

Fidelity spokeswoman Anne Crowley said the decision to close the unit was made because debt financing had become very difficult to obtain.

In the last two years the unit made acquisitions in four companies, and Fidelity plans to retain those ownership stakes.

The unit took stakes in imaging solutions company Picsolve International, financial data management companies Complinet Group and Asset Control Inc., and oil and gas equipment company Production Control Services Inc.

Fidelity Equity Partners employed 14 people, with half working in the United States and the rest in London.

Fidelity’s venture capital arm, Fidelity Ventures, is not affected. “This group remains active and is seeking new investments,” Crowley said.

Rob Ketterson, who oversees Fidelity Equity Partners and Fidelity Ventures, will continue to be in charge of the venture arm. —Svea Herbst-Bayliss and Anupreeta Das, Reuters