Firms & Funds

Allianz said it is in talks to sell its AGF Private Equity unit to IDI.

Ariya Capital Group Ltd., a U.K.-based investment firm, is raising $150 million for its debut private equity fund, which will focus on sustainable investments in Sub-Sahara Africa.

Berkeley Energy has raised €50.7 million for its Renewable Energy Asia Fund, which will back renewable energy projects in India and other developing countries in Asia. Backers include CDC Group PLC, which committed €10 million.

BTG Pactual is planning to launch a private equity fund focused on Brazilian infrastructure opportunities.

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System has agreed to commit $120 million to SAIF Partners IV, a fund that will focus on growth equity opportunities buyouts in Greater China and India. It also will make opportunistic buyout and early-stage VC deals. Hong Kong-based SAIF Partners was formed in 2001 by Japan’s Softbank, with Cisco as the sole limited partner.

Cazenove Capital Management has acquired Thornhill Holdings Ltd., a U.K.-based provider of wealth management services. No financial terms were disclosed.

CCB International, an I-banking arm of China Construction Bank, is planning to launch a $1 billion private equity fund in Hong Kong.

Cendana Capital has formed as a new fund-of-funds by Michael Kim, a co-founding partner of Rustic Canyon Partners, according to NYT’s Bits blog.

CITIC Securities, China’s largest listed brokerage, has closed its first private equity fund with around 9 billion yuan ($1.3 billion) in capital commitments.

Earth Capital Partners has held a first close on its debut renewable energy infrastructure fund, which will support solar, biogas and biomass projects in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The total fund target is €750 million, although ECP did not give a figure for the first close.

Elysian Capital, a U.K.-based mid-market private equity firm, has held a £70 million first close for its debut fund, according to LBO Wire. The fund target is £200 million, with a final close expected next summer.

EMP Global has closed its Central American Mezzanine Infrastructure Fund with $150 million in capital commitments. Limited partners include Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation, Inter-American Development Bank, IFC, Netherlands Development Finance Company, Central American Bank for Economic Integration and Mexico-based Fondo de Fondos.

F&C Private Equity has held a €30 million first close on Aurora Fund, which will acquire secondary interests in European private equity funds and co-investments. Aurora Fund’s first deal closed in October, when it bought Iceland-based Landsbanki’s private equity fund interests.

Gene Taylor, former Bank of America vice chairman, reportedly has raised $550 million for a fund that would invest in troubled U.S. banks. The fund is called North American Financial Holdings. Taylor is being backed by Crestview Partners, which was one of the firms that supported Taylor on a failed bid to acquire Florida’s First Southern Bancorp earlier this year.

Gilde Healthcare Partners is raising upwards of €50 million for a growth equity fund that would focus on European health care companies. It has already closed on an undisclosed amount of capital commitments.

Graham Partners is raising a $50 million annex to its $273 million debut fund, which was raised in 2000.

Harris Williams & Co., an investment bank focused on the middle markets, is opening a London office, which would lead the firm’s European advisory practice. It will be led by Thierry Monjauze, who previously was co-head of European technology investment banking for Deutsche Bank.

Haymarket Financial has been formed as a U.K.-based mid-market lender, by former Goldman Sachs partner Tim Flynn. TowerBrook Capital Partners is Haymarket’s majority owner, while other investors include OMERS Private Equity and the Public Sector Pension Investment Board.

Levine Leichtman Capital Partners of Los Angeles has held a $1.1 billion final close on its fourth fund, according to LBO Wire. Limited partners include the Arizona State Retirement System, CalPERS, the State of Connecticut and the Florida State Board of Administration.

Madison Williams & Co. has been formed via a management buyout of the principal capital markets business of Sanders Morris Harris Group.

Marlin Equity Partners has closed its third mid-market buyout fund with $650 million in capital commitments. It was originally targeting $450 million, with Probitas Partners serving as placement agent. The El Segundo, Calif.-based firm previously raised a $300 million fund in 2007.

Morgan Stanley Investment Management has launched a program aimed at providing capital, advice and infrastructure solutions to emerging asset managers, with a particular emphasis on minority and women-owned asset managers.

Neuberger Berman said that its private equity secondaries team has acquired a portfolio of 21 private equity investments from a European family office. The deal was valued at approximately $200 million.

Onex Corp. (TSX: OCX) has closed its third private equity fund with $4 billion in capital commitments, including $500 million from Onex.

Parish Capital has held first closes on two new funds-of-funds: Parish Capital III, a North American fund with a $450 million target; and Parish Europe II, a Europe-focused fund with a €250 million target. The firm also promoted Bernard De Backer to partner, Tracy Harris to managing director and Scott Penwell to director.

Partners Group of Switzerland has closed its latest secondary fund with €2.5 billion in capital commitments, compared to an original target of €2 billion.

The Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System reported private equity returns of 7.2 percent and venture capital returns of 0.1 percent (both through June 30). The $23.7 billion system also said that it has cut its long-term target allocation for alternatives from 14 percent to 12 percent. It has current alternatives exposure of 22.1 percent.

Stanford University has canceled a proposed sale of LP interests in private equity and venture capital funds, according to the The Wall Street Journal. The school received bids of around 80-85 cents on the dollar for the portfolio, which would have been restructured as a joint venture with secondary buyers (Stanford remaining as majority holder). WSJ reports that the cancellation was partially prompted by rising public equity and debt portfolio values.

SVB Financial Group (Nasdaq: SIVB), the parent company of Silicon Valley Bank, said that it has received U.S. Treasury Department approval to repay $235 million in TARP funds (plus accrued but unpaid dividends).

Syntaxis Capital has held a €140 million first close on its second Central European mezzanine fund. The total target is €250 million, compared to the €120 million raised for Syntaxis’ first Central European mezz fund.

Tennenbaum Capital Partners has held a $454 million final close on its first fund focused on debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing.