Firms & Funds

The African Development Bank has invested $15 million in the Catalyst Fund, a private equity fund based in Kenya that invests in consumer goods, services, and agribusiness in the East Africa community.

Bain Capital announced that it is interested in investing in financial services companies in the Middle East, particularly in Saudi Arabia, which has a fast-growing population and a strong economy. According to Steve Pagliuca, managing director, “there are large capital sources here but the region itself is intriguing—Saudi Arabia specifically is building five or six cities the size of Boston, which is going to take an enormous amount of economic might to do that.”

Burrill & Co.

and Infinity Group formed a joint venture that will pursue life science investment opportunities in China. The two firms plan to co-invest as equal partners. San Francisco-based Burrill plans to open its China headquarters in Hong Kong.

The preference of sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East for direct investment has made fund-raising in the region complicated, according to private equity firm Carlyle Group. Although private equity activity has been growing in the Middle East, fund raising appears to be a bit trickier because “a lot of the sovereign wealth funds which have money feel they are to some extent over-allocated in private equity,” said Carlyle managing director David Rubenstein.

CI Capital, the investment arm of Egypt’s Commercial International Bank, will launch three new investment funds, it announced, and has three IPOs in the pipeline. The three funds include a capital protected fund, a bond fund, and a real estate fund. CI Capital has already raised 250 million Egyptian pounds ($44 million) for its debut fund, Hemeya.

The education company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is now accepting admissions to its $100 million Innovation Fund that aims to fuel the advancement of education companies needing growth capital. The company announced its plans for the fund in September.

ICICI Venture will seek to raise up to $750 million from overseas investors for its $1 billion infrastructure fund, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters. ICICI Venture is the private equity arm of Indian lender ICICI Bank.

Invest AD, the investment vehicle owned by the government of Abu Dhabi, plans to raise $400 million for a new private equity fund by 2011, it announced. The first closing of the fund will occur by the end of this year for $175 million, with Invest AD including $75 million of its own seed capital. The rest would be raised in 2011.

Private equity firm MerchantBridge, which has more than $1.5 billion of investments in Iraq, has launched the Mesopotamia Fund to invest further in Iraqi equities. MerchantBridge also plans to close a deal of up to $100 million in Saudi Arabia next year.

NB Private Equity Partners Ltd., a private equity fund-of-funds, is planning to sell off its interest in eight large-cap buyout fund investments for around $101.8 million, with details about the sales portfolio to be launched later. The funds will be used to launch a capital return policy and for strategic portfolio repositioning.

Newbury Partners said that its Newbury Equity Partners II LP fund has raised $1.024 billion, up from its original target of $800 million. Commitments came from 75 institutional investors in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia. NEP II will buy LP interests in buyout and venture capital funds across North America, according to the statement. Newbury, of Stamford, Conn., is a buyout firm.

New York Pacific Capital, an international merchant bank, has just launched a new China fund called Suzhou Kabei Golden Fund, LP, the firm has announced. The target size is RMB 300 million ($45.1 million). Suzhou Cheng He Venture Capital Co. is the lead investor, while Agricultural Bank of China is placing the fund with its high net worth and corporate clients, NYPC has said.

Piper Jaffray said that it planned to spin off its private capital business, which will be renamed North Sky Capital. The fund-of-funds business will transition to key principals, the statement said. Scott Barrington, a Piper Jaffray managing director, will lead the new entity. North Sky will manage the funds raised by Piper Jaffray Private Capital, of about $700 million in committed capital. Minneapolis-based Piper Jaffray is an investment bank.