Firms & Funds

Asia Alternatives of San Francisco has held a $138 million first close for its second fund-of-funds targeting the Asia market, according to a regulatory filing. No target information was disclosed. C.P. Eaton Partners is serving as placement agent. The firm last year closed its debut fund-of-funds with $515 million. Limited partners included CalTech, CalPERS, Comprehensive Financial Management, Mass Mutual Asia, Mass Mutual Japan, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, OHIM Asia Investors (affiliate of Oak Hill Investment Management), OMERS, PSERS, Warren Hellman and Arthur Rock. C.P. Eaton Partners served as placement agent.

Avista Capital is planning to raise $3 billion for its second fund. The Credit Suisse spinout closed its debut fund just last summer with $2 billion.

Beecken Petty O’ Keefe & Co. is nearing the $650 million target for its third fundraising effort, according to LBO Wire. The Chicago-based firm focuses on buyout opportunities in the healthcare space, and raised $325 million in 2005 for its second fund.

BHG Acquisition Corp. has filed for a $350 million IPO, with Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank Securities serving as co-lead underwriters. The Greenwich, Conn.-based blank check acquisition company is led by Cliff Robbins, a former partner with both General Atlantic and KKR, who currently runs an investment manager firm called Blue Harbour Group. The only other listed manager is Avenue Capital Group chief executive Marc Lasry, who will serve as a director.

Caltius of Los Angeles is raising $400 million for its fourth mezzanine fund, according to a regulatory filing. Credit Suisse is serving as placement agent.

Candover PLC, a UK private equity firm focused on the European market, is raising 5 billion for its latest fund, according to a regulatory filing. The firm’s prior fund closed in November 2005 with EUR 3.5 billion, and so far has made nine investments. Approximately 45% of that fund’s limited partners were from the U.S., while 25% was from the UK and another 24% was from other European nations.

The Carlyle Group is raising up to $1 billion for its second mezzanine fund, according to a regulatory filing. It has already secured $209.5 million in commitments. The firm raised around $436 million for its debut mezz fund in 2005.

Charterhouse Capital Partners is planning to raise its ninth fund with a target in excess of €5 billion, according to Dow Jones. The UK-based buyout firm had raised €4 billion for its fourth fund, which hit the 75 percent-invested threshold earlier this month by agreeing to buy both Giles Insurance Brokers and Tunstall Group.

Ferd Private Equity has changed its name to Herkules, and moving its headquarters to downtown Oslo. The move was made to differentiate between the private equity firm and Ferd AS, its largest limited partner.

Gulf Capital and Credit Suisse have formed a long-term strategic alliance to make private equity investments in the Gulf and Middle East regions. No financial terms of the arrangement were disclosed, save that each institution was committing “a significant amount of investment capital.”

Kohlberg & Co. has closed its sixth private equity fund with $1.5 billion in capital commitments. Lazard served as placement agent. The Mt. Kisco, N.Y.-based firm focuses on buyouts of mid-market companies, and raised $1.1 billion for its prior fund in 2004.

The London Pensions Fund Authority has selected JPMorgan Private Equity Fund Services to provide portfolio administration and performance reporting for its alternative investment portfolio.

The New York State Common Retirement Fund approved three fund commitments last month. They are: $100 million to CVC Equity Partners Asia Pacific III, $35 million to Palladium Equity Partners II and $10 million to Carmel Ventures III.

Nixon Peabody LLP has opened an office in Shanghai, which is the law firm’s first office in Asia. The office will be initially staffed on a rotational basis by two U.S. attorneys from Nixon Peabody’s China practice: James Chapman and Daniel Deshon. It plans to soon hire a permanent Shanghai staff.

The Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System has approved the following fund commitments: $40 million to ABS Capital Partners VI, $50 million to Lime Rock Partners V, $50 million to Madison Dearborn Capital Partners VI and $15 million to Versa Capital Partners II.

Ping An Insurance of China has agreed to acquire a 50 percent equity stake in Belgium-based asset management company Fortis Investments. The deal is valued at €2.15 billion, with the resulting company to be renamed Fortis Ping An Investments.

Qatalyst Group has launched as a San Francisco-based tech-focused merchant bank. The firm’s investment banking arm will provide M&A advisory services, while its Qatalyst Capital Partners unit will make principal investments alongside venture capital and private equity firms. No word yet on Qatalyst’s capitalization. Qatalyst was founded by former CSFB tech banker Frank Quattrone, who last summer had obstruction of justice charges against him dismissed.

Reliant Equity Investors is being sued by nearly 400 former employees of catalog retailer BlueSky Brands Inc., which two weeks ago shut down and fired all of its employees. The complaint alleges that Reliant Equity violated federal labor laws.

Renaissance Partners, an affiliate of Moscow-based investment bank Renaissance Capital, has raised $660 million for its inaugural private equity fund. It will focus on buyouts of Russian companies.

SFW Capital Partners, a Rye, N.Y.-based middle-market private equity firm, has closed its debut fund with $300 million in capital commitments. The firm was founded by former AEA Investors pros Thomas Salice, Roger Freeman and Norm Wells, plus Casey Lynch (Parthenon Capital) and David Webb (Merrill Lynch’s financial sponsors group).