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First CDC fund since independence

Charterhouse Development Capital is raising a e3 billion pan-European fund, its first as an independent entity. The veteran buyout house expects a first closing by the second quarter and the team is confident of meeting its target thanks to a wide existing investor base spanning Europe and the US.

Charterhouse Development Capital finally gained its independence last year when it completed its own buyout led by Gordon Bonnyman who joined the firm in 1990. As a semi-captive the firm raised six funds, totalling around e2 billion for investment in the UK and outside Europe. This latest fund will be the firm’s seventh fund. Charterhouse has invested e18 billion in over 110 businesses across Europe.

Charterhouse Development Capital’s chance for independence came following the acquisition of Charterhouse Development Capital parent company Credit Commercial de France in July 2000. HSBC already had a substantial private equity business then run by Ian Forrest, now by Chris Masterson.

“The investment strategy of the fund will not change,” said Duncan Aldred, investment manager at Charterhouse Development Capital. “The only difference is that the management team will be committing to one per cent of the total fund size.” The fund will be targeting growth businesses across Europe with transaction sizes of between e200 million and e450 million. The firm’s last fund, the e1.8 billion Charterhouse Capital Partners VI was launched in 1997 and is over 70 per cent invested.

Aldred said: “We are optimistic about fund raising. We have a pretty good record and it is a much better time for investing than it has been over the last two years. The 1997-2000 period was a pretty heady environment in the market: prices were high, competition was fierce. There are already signs that this is changing and it is becoming much more a buyer’s market than a seller’s market.”