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Firms & Funds

European private equity firm BC Partners is close to raising almost €3 billion ($4.15 billion) for its ninth fund, Reuters reported. The firm is expected to hold a first close of the fund in the next week. The firm has been targeting a total of about €5.9 billion, in keeping with its eighth fund raised in 2005, Reuters said.

South African investment firm Brait is raising as much as $864 million in a public offering, and nixing its private equity business model in favor of public capital markets, Reuters reported. Brait said its new model would allow it to raise money more quickly and hold investments longer than traditional private equity firms, Reuters wrote. The firm will use the new funds to invest in two privately held South African firms, retailer Pepkor Holdings and food manufacturer Premier Group.

Two former partners at D.E. Shaw and Goldman Sachs have teamed up to raise a $500 million China-focused private equity fund, Reuters reported. Meng Liang, a partner and Greater China CEO for hedge fund D.E. Shaw, recently resigned from the firm to join with Kevin Zhang, a former Goldman Sachs partner and co-head of its Asian Special Situations Group.

Alternative investment firm EBF & Associates has closed its value and real asset opportunities fund, Merced Partners III LP, with $567 million. The fund tops the firm’s previous fund, which closed in 2007 with $474 million. Based in Minnetonka, Minn., EBF currently manages $1.8 billion in capital.

Fifth Street Finance Corp. said that loan commitments on its three-year syndicated credit facility have increased to $215 million. ING Capital, which is leading the loan, is being joined by Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas, Key Equipment Finance Inc. and Patriot National Bank on the facility.

Francisco Partners has closed its third fund, Francisco Partners III LP, with $2 billion in commitments. Francisco Partners focuses on investments in middle market information technology companies, including buyouts, recaps and restructuring. The firm, which has offices in San Francisco and London, has raised roughly $7 billion since 1999. Cooley LLP acted as legal adviser to the firm.

Chicago-based GTCR closed its 10th buyout fund with more than $3.25 billion in commitments. The fund represents the firm’s largest in its 30-year history and will target investments across financial services and technology, health care and information services and technology. The firm did not disclose its LPs in its announcement.

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. saw its economic net income rise 39 percent in the fourth quarter, Reuters said. The firm attributed the growth to stronger investment returns and capital raising. Economic net income was $714.6 million in the fourth quarter, compared to $515.3 million a year earlier, Reuters wrote.

Real estate-focused private equity firm Madison International Realty has closed its latest fund, Madison International Real Estate Liquidity Fund IV LP, with $510 million in commitments. New York-based Madison acquires illiquid or partial ownership interests in properties and portfolios from investors seeking an early exit. The firm also provides equity for recapitalizations and debt restructurings.

Monroe Capital, a firm focused on middle-market and lower-middle market investments, has held a first close of its $250 million fund: Monroe Capital Partners Fund LP. Specific details of the close were not released. The new fund will provide senior and junior mezzanine debt and equity co-investments for private equity-sponsored deals, the firm said. Chicago-based Monroe Capital has more than $700 million under management.

Monroe Capital Corp.

filed a registration statement for the IPO of shares of its common stock. It will operate as a publicly traded business development company managed by an affiliate of Monroe Capital LLC; the offering is to sell $150 million in shares.

Praesidian Capital, which provides mezzanine capital for small and medium-sized companies, has received approval for its Praesidian Capital Opportunity Fund III to operate as a small business investment company, the firm announced. New York-based Praesidian Capital partners with small and mid-sized businesses, providing private debt capital. The firm manages more than $500 million in committed capital.

Richard Ong, a founding partner of Hopu Investment Management Co., is planning his own $2 billion Asia fund, Reuters reported. The new fund, RRJ Capital, will focus on traditional private equity investments, Reuters said.

Russia is forming a $10 billion fund to co-invest with international private equity firms, Reuters reported, citing an article in the Financial Times. The country is making an effort to increase foreign investment in the country, and has reportedly approached firms including Apollo Management, Blackstone Group and The Carlyle Group.

Milan, Italy-based Solar Investment Group is launching its second development fund and its third solar asset fund. The fund will target investment projects up to 250MW of solar energy projects in Italy to take advantage of the strong Italian feed in tariff program.

Terra Firma is hopeful that it will return all its investors’s money despite losing $2.75 billion on music group EMI, Reuters reported, citing a letter from the firm’s chairman, Guy Hands. Terra Firma bought EMI in 2007 for £4 billion, but lost control of the company to Citigroup after EMI defaulted on debt. Citigroup had backed the buyout with £2.6 billion of loans.

A state-run Iraqi bank is planning a $500 million private-equity fund to invest in projects to rebuild the country, Reuters said. Trade Bank of Iraq plans to bring on a global partner to act as general partner on the fund. Formed in 2003, the bank also plans to open branches this year in London and Beirut, and eventually in North America and Asia.