HarbourVest Sells Stake in Fund

Boston-based private equity stalwart HarbourVest Partners sold its stake in a large Spanish buyout fund, PE Week has confirmed. While an experienced secondary buyer familiar with the deal says such sales are increasingly common among large limited partners, some observers of fund-of-funds say that the move is unusual for a large player such as HarbourVest.

The firm sold a stake of approximately $30 million in Mercapital Servicos Financieros’ Spanish Private Equity Fund II. The Madrid-based private equity firm closed the fund in 2000 with approximately $718 million.

The buyers were a group of secondary firms led by London-based Greenpark Capital. Greenpark CEO Marleen Groen declined to discuss the transaction.

“We certainly see more fund-of-funds pieces,” says Groen. “Pricing at the moment is pretty attractive, so it’s not surprised that owners of private equity pieces are using this market to do their housekeeping.”

A FoF manager who declined to be identified says that unless HarbourVest was making a strategic decision, such as curtailing its investments in Spain, it would be unusual for an established FoF of HarbourVest’s ilk to sell a stake in a fund like this.

A HarbourVest spokeswoman would not comment. Mercapital did not return calls for comment.

Mercapital’s Spanish Private Equity Fund II closed in 2001 with about $718 million. It recently purchased La Carona, Spain-based animal feed provider Saprogal from The Carlyle Group for about $186 million.

HarbourVest, which is based in Boston, and has offices in London and Hong Kong, is an established secondary buyer. Since its 1997 founding, HarbourVest has invested about $3.4 billion in 460 secondary deals.

The firm has invested $10.8 billion, about 65% of its assets, in more than 200 private equity firms and made more than $2.2 billion in direct investments.