Firms & funds in brief

Phoenix Equity Partners, a UK-based mid-market buyout firm, has agreed its third purchase of the year by buying diary maker Letts Filofax and has closed its latest fund at £375m (US$651m). Phoenix is paying £45m to private equity peer Dunedin Capital Partners for Letts Filofax. Dunedin has made 6x its money on the investment over five years after backing Gordon Presly and Gordon Raw’s £17m management buyout of Letts in 2000. Letts’ respective chief executive and finance director bought Filofax in 2001 for £14.5m.

Phoenix formally started fundraising in December and completed at the start of March after it reached the fund’s cap. The 2006 fund was raised from 24 institutional investors from Europe, North America and Asia, including Teachers’ Private Capital, AlpInvest, AXA Private Equity, Adams Street, SEB and the Wellcome Trust. Its fourth fund had raised £300m and bought 16 businesses, including Letts. Also this year, Phoenix has bought half of handbag maker Radley for £45m and garage chain Nationwide Autocentres for £49m.

  • Turnaround specialist Rutland is seeking to raise £250m for its second fund, Rutland Fund II. Rutland Trust has agreed to commit £100m to the new fund. The £210m Rutland Fund is drawn down by 75% (£158m including profit share). The new fund will have a similar strategy to the first fund. It will invest in UK companies with difficult strategic challenges or that may be underperforming, in need of restructuring or entering a period of change. The value of the company will typically range from £20m to £150m, with Rutland committing between £10m and £40m per investment.
  • Partners Group, the Switzerland-based global alternative asset manager, is planning to list on the SWX Swiss Exchange. The IPO is expected to take the form of a public offering in Switzerland and private placements in selected countries and will include a preferred allocation programme for certain clients and business partners of the firm. The offering is expected to result in a free-float of approximately 30%.

Management and employees of Partners Group will own a substantial majority stake. Credit Suisse will act as global co-ordinator and lead bookrunner for the offering, and Merrill Lynch as bookrunner. Other members of the syndicate include Sal Oppenheim as co-lead manager, as well as Landesbank Baden-Württemberg and Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch as co-managers.

Alfred Gantner, co-founder and executive chairman of Partners Group, said: “With the planned listing and the preferred allocation programme we will further align our interests with our clients and business partners. Moreover, the IPO provides additional entrepreneurial freedom to develop the firm in a way favourable to all our stakeholders, which we believe ensures our long-term independence.”

Over the years, Partners Group has expanded its alternative asset offering to provide an international client base with comprehensive private equity, private debt and hedge fund investment solutions. The firm has grown to more than 140 employees, based in offices in Zug, New York, London, Singapore and Guernsey. Assets under management at the end of 2005 amounted to approximately SFr11bn. In 2005, the firm reported net revenues of SFr125m and net profits after tax of SFr78m.