Global Asset Capital takes control of Viventures

US venture capital firm Global Asset Capital has won the battle to take control of Viventures Partners, the early stage technology fund set up by Vivendi Universal in 1998. Hamilton Lane, US fund-of-funds manager active in the secondaries market is backing the offer, reported to be worth €9 million. It has been reported that the offer allows LPs to reduce their commitments to the fund by a further 25 per cent and that a new fund will be set up to co-invest with Viventures II.

Vivendi chose this offer over a bid from the Belgian holding company of Albert Frère, Compagnie Nationale à Portefeuille, one of the existing investors in Viventures. Frère’s proposal, which had the supported of other LPs, was to maintain the remaining management team and manage the portfolio of investments. Other LPs include BT, Cisco Systems, Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, Goldman Sachs, Nokia, Procter & Gamble, SG Asset Management, Siemens Venture Capital and investment vehicles of the Singaporean government.

Calls for Vivendi to surrender control of the Viventures management company came after it defaulted on its commitment to Viventures II last year. This decision means Vivendi will not be entitled to any profits the fund may go on to make. The fund originally closed on €630 million in 2000 but has since been reduced by 20 per cent.

The original investment focus of Viventures II was early stage companies in sectors such as telecoms and datacom infrastructure, optical components and systems, application software and enabling technologies for wireless and Internet infrastructure. Viventures’ first fund raised $115 million in 1998 and has already returned more than the total contributed capital to investors.

Global Asset Capital’s takeover is subject to approval from the French regulatory authorities.