Fund briefs, June 18, 2007

Avista raises $2B inaugural fund

Avista Capital Partners

has closed its debut fund with $2 billion in capital commitments.

The New York-based middle market private equity firm was co-founded in 2005 by seven partners who previously worked together at DLJ Merchant Banking. Avista focuses on buyout opportunities in the energy, health care and media spaces.

The firm did not disclose limited partners, but the general partnership of Avista is collectively the largest investor with a commitment of $161 million.

Avista has committed about $1.1 billion of the fund so far in 14 companies, including BioReliance Corp., Geokinetics Inc., Laramie Energy II LLC, Nycomed AS, The Star Tribune Co. and WideOpenWest.

Merrill Lynch served as placement agent for the fund, which was originally targeted at $1.5 billion.

Canada launches $84M Ontario VC Fund

As part of its efforts to strengthen developments and research in Ontario, the Canadian government has created an $84.3 million investment vehicle that will focus on Ontario-based firms and will partner its investments with venture capital, pension and federal government funds, according to a press release.

The venture fund was announced in conjunction with plans announced by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty to strengthen innovation in the Ontario region. Those plans include a one-time C$21 million grant to support a new research center at Kingston, Ontario-based Queens University. The government also said it plans to invest C$1.7 billion in five years in research and other programs, as well as C$6.2 billion in five years for postsecondary education.

“To succeed in today’s economy, we need to build a culture of innovation in every sector and in every corner of our province,” McGuinty said in a statement.

Sterling clear on $1B

Sterling Partners

, a Northbrook, Ill.-based mid-market private equity firm, has closed its third fund with $1 billion in capital commitments. The firm raised about $530 million for Sterling Capital Partners II in 2005.

The firm did not disclose limited partners, but Senior Managing Partner Steven Taslitz said that the firm raised the fund thanks to new LPs from North America, Europe and Asia.

Sterling seeks to acquire controlling interests in companies with enterprise values of between $20 million and $150 million.

Unrelated to the buyout fund, Sterling Partners also manages Sterling Venture Partners, which provides growth capital for expansion stage companies in which the firm assumes a non-controlling interest.

DFJ Frontier nearly halfway to $80M

DFJ Frontier

has held a $35 million first close on its second fund, which is targeting about $80 million. The firm makes seed stage and early stage investments, of between $100,000 and $500,000, in IT companies in California. The fund has offices in Sacramento, Calif., and Santa Barbara, Calif

Standard Life closes Euro FoF

Standard Life Investments

has closed its latest European private equity fund-of-funds with about $1.2 billion in commitments. It also has raised another $300 million for North American Strategic Partners, its first U.S. private equity fund of funds, called North American Strategic Partners, which is based in Boston.

Braemar eyes $200M

Braemar Energy Ventures

is raising its second fund with a $200 million target, according to VentureWire. The New York-based firm raised $60 million for its first fund in 2003.

Braemar makes early to mid-stage investments in the energy technology sector.

Duke nears close, sans Truell

Duke Street Capital

is nearing a final close on its sixth middle-market fund. The U.K.-based firm has been targeting about $1.1 billion, and also is in the process of hiring a new investment director and investment manager. The firm raised about $1.3 billion for its fifth fund, which closed in 2002.

The sixth fund will be the first since Duke Street founder Edmund Truell left the firm in 2005 to set up Pension Insurance Corp., which buys pension fund assets.

Truell sold the majority of his share in Duke Street earlier in the year.

IOP closes first fund

Industrial Opportunity Partners

has closed its debut fund with $185 million in capital commitments. The Evanston, Ill.-based firm focuses on middle-market manufacturing and distribution businesses, typically with sales between $30 million and $300 million.

Park Hill Group

served as fund placement agent.

W Capital fund could stretch to $750M

W Capital Partners

is raising up to $750 million for its second direct secondaries fund, according to a regulatory filing. LBO Wire has reported that the firm has a formal target of $500 million. W Capital raised about $300 million for its previous secondary fund in 2003.

Probitas Partners is serving as primary placement agent.

Flagship flags down $20 from MassPRIM

Flagship Ventures

is targeting $250 million for its next fund, and earlier this month received a $20 million commitment from the Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management Board. The Cambridge, Mass.-based venture firm raised just over $150 million for its previous fund in 2004.