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Gresham exceeds target for third fund

Gresham, the UK lower mid-market MBO and expansion specialist, has closed its third fund on £235m, surpassing its £200m target. The Gresham III fund was launched in May 2003, and had a first close in December 2003 on £153m. Chief executive Paul Marson-Smith said “We expect to invest around half of the money in the south of England, with the remainder split between the Midlands and the north of England. “

Investors include Access Capital, Alpinvest, ATP Private Equity Partners, Bank of Scotland, Eagle Star Life, Henderson Global Investors, Swiss Re, Wilshire and Zurich.

The new fund will invest, like its predecessors, in a wide range of sectors with emphasis on consumer products, pharmaceuticals/healthcare, industrial products, business/support services, TMT (technology, media and telecommunications), entertainment/media and financial services.

The fund has so far made two investments. The first was in July 2003 in IT services group 2escape2 when it supported a €7m BIMBO. The company has made five acquisitions in that time as part of Gresham’s buy-and-build strategy.

In March 2004, the firm led the £18m MBO of restaurant chain, Individual Restaurant Company.

It is Gresham’s first fund raising since gaining independence from Zurich Financial Services in February 2003 and includes a £75m cornerstone investment from Zurich.

The firm focuses on lower mid-market management buyouts and expansion funding with typical deal values ranging from £5m to £75m.

International Private Equity Limited acted as placement agent for the fund raising and Macfarlanes provided legal advice.