First close for Bestport

Bestport Ventures, a development capital fund management company founded by former Close Venture Management director, Ole Bettum, and Bamboo Investments CEO, James Stoddart, has reached a first close of its inaugural fund, the Bestport LP Fund.

The fund raised close to £15m in just under seven months, well in excess of its initial target of £10m. The fund will focus on smaller development capital and buyout opportunities in the UK. Bestport is aiming to raise a total of up to £30m by final close, which is expected to be in the second half of 2006.

The investors to date are a mixture of large family offices and wealthy individuals, including a number of entrepreneurs that the Bestport founders have backed in the past as well as several investors in funds previously managed by the founders. Serial entrepreneur and one of the cornerstone investors Robert Gaines-Cooper said: “I decided to invest in Bestport’s inaugural fund on the basis of the strong track record of the Bestport team and their focus on a segment of the development capital market with substantial opportunity that remains under-serviced and under-supplied.”

The fund will provide between £0.25m and £2m of equity funding to UK companies typically with a turnover run-rate between £0.5m and £10m and strong growth prospects through organic growth and/or acquisitions. Bestport will consider companies in all sectors but is particularly active in business services, healthcare and technology markets.

James Stoddart, joint managing partner, said: “We are delighted to complete a relatively quick first close of the fund as we have a number of interesting deal prospects in the pipeline including two advanced prospects in the healthcare services space. The UK market for smaller development capital investing is very attractive as it is significantly less competitive than the mid market space and there is a strong entrepreneurial culture in the UK.”

James Stoddart and Ole Bettum established Bestport in 2005. Bettum previously spent nine years with Close Brothers Group plc, where he was instrumental in building Close Venture Management from an early stage to a highly successful development capital investment business with some £130m under management. Stoddart previously managed Bamboo Investments plc, an investment company behind successful businesses such as Active Hotels, Cassium Technologies and that came under Close’s management in spring 2003.