Horsley Bridge Closes First European Vehicle

Horsley Bridge International at the end of July held a $193 million (ecu 174 million) initial close on the Horsley Bridge European Fund. Established as fund-of-funds manager in the US since 1983, Horsley Bridge Partners has to date raised five domestic vehicles. The Horsley Bridge European Fund, which set out to amass between $200 million and $300 million for investment in European private equity funds, represents the group’s first transatlantic foray. It was raised via Horsley Bridge International, a London subsidiary set up in the spring of 1997 against the background of a booming European fund-of-funds market.

The first closing total was comfortably more than the $175 million Horsley Bridge had targeted, London-based managing director Guy Fraser-Sampson said. The fund is no longer being actively marketed, but Guy Fraser-Sampson confirmed that it would be kept open to allow further participants who have already expressed interest to come in. Another commitment has already been added since the end of July, and Horsley Bridge International has firm-circled further commitments that would take the fund-of-funds to more than $235 million.

Horsley Bridge declined to name investors in the fund, but sources suggest that most of the group’s existing US investors have committed to the European vehicle.

During the fund-of-funds’ three-year commitment period, at least 90% of Horsley Bridge European Fund will be invested in Western European private equity funds.

Horsley Bridge International’s investment strategy, Guy Fraser-Sampson explained, “consists simply of looking to invest in the very best groups”.

Deconstructed, rather than being a statement of the obvious, this means that the fund is not subject to any pre-allocations according to the country or stage focus of its investee vehicles, and it will use anticipated financial return as its sole investment criterion.

Horsley Bridge European Fund has made one investment to date, taking a position in CVC European Equity Partners II (story, page 4), which the group warehoused until the first closing was finalised.

Horsley Bridge International is currently looking to appoint a second senior investment professional to its London office.