iFeminina Gets Chase-led $7.5M Cash Injection

iFeminina, the first Web site dedicated to Spanish and Portuguese-speaking women throughout Latin America, the U.S. and Europe, recently received $7.5 million in its first round of financing.

Chase Capital Partners (CCP), which is the largest Internet investor in Latin America with 10 deals to date, committed $4.5 million to iFeminina as the lead investor. Flatiron Partners, an Internet-focused, early-stage venture capital group that is funded with $300 million from CCP, Sao Paulo-based GP Investimentos, Opportunity and Ventech LLC contributed the remaining $3 million.

The company will use proceeds from the offering to finance its expansion throughout Latin and North America – including the establishment of new offices in Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Miami, New York and Mexico City – and to build brand awareness.

Susan Segal, head of the Latin America group at CCP, said the key to this investment was the management team and its proven track record. Sonia Dula is chief executive of iFeminina and one of the three founders.

“The management team’s careers on Wall Street and, in particular, Sonia’s tenures as CEO of Telemundo Studios Mexico and later of iG, have given them the depth of experience and contacts in the media and publishing worlds that will be invaluable,” Segal added.

Segal said iFeminina wants to open an office in New York because the city is the center of fashion and decoration. Two areas that will be featured on the site are investing advice and cooking tips

“Women have a lot of the purchasing power in Latin America,” she said. “This is key to potential advertisers and future e-commerce opportunities.”

Segal said the company has the potential to go public in the U.S., but she declined to establish a time frame for the proposed offering. A successful IPO would be Chase’s second in the U.S. of a Latin American company, following the successful flotation of Starmedia last May. iFeminina plans to be up and running “sometime” this month.

Enter One, Exit Another

In other Internet news at Chase, it has, along with Flatiron Partners, J.P. Morgan Capital Corp. and Capital Riesgo Internet, sold 75% of its stake in Patagon.com to Madrid-based Banco Santander Central Hispano for $529 million. Patagon’s management team, including its founders, will retain 25% of the company.

Begun as an online brokerage, an Argentine angel investor invested $1 million in the start-up in 1998. Chase and Flatiron invested $4 million later that year, and another $4 million through a 1999 bridge loan. Patagon then received a huge cash injection last December when Chase co-led a $53 million round with J.P. Morgan.

Last September, Patagon altered its business model to focus on the distribution of financial services.

In sum, Chase and Flatiron invested a total of $17.3 million in equity, for a combined share of 20%, that would reap approximately $140 million from the sale.

Meanwhile, Banco Santander said it will make Patagon the bank’s only online brand in Latin America and Europe.