in brief

The Blackstone Group has gathered enough commitments to close its European real estate fund at €3.094bn, according to a regulatory filing. The fund hasn’t officially closed but is poised to do so soon. A Blackstone spokesperson declined to comment on the fund. The filing states that Blackstone Real Estate Partners Europe III LP was formed in October 2007, and gathered commitments from 69 investors. LPs included IPennsylvania PERS (US$200m) and CPP Investment Board. The firm’s prior European real estate efforts put a respective US$1.17 and US$1.8bn in capital to work. Meanwhile the firm is still plugging away at its distressed real estate fund, called Blackstone Real Estate Special Situations Fund LP. In February it was reported that it had just US$113.5mn from 40 investors towards their US$1bn target. It’s led by Michael Nash.

• In a recent trading update Intermediate Capital Group (ICG), the mezzanine and leveraged loan investor and third party fund manager said the majority of ICG’s portfolio companies continued to perform satisfactorily with 17 of its top 20 assets performing at, or above, last years level. However the statement went on to say: “While our largest assets held up well, the performance of the companies which we had already identified as the weakest in our portfolio has deteriorated further. Overall, we still expect the default rate for the year to 31 March 2009 to be approximately 4%, which we believe is substantially better than the market and reflects the defensive nature of our portfolio”. Despite this the firm expects the a second close of its Recovery Fund in the first of the firms next financial year. “We also continue to invest selectively in the secondary market for senior loans through our third party funds. We believe that this market will offer great opportunities over the next few years…”, continued the statement.

• Swiss bank UBS last week put out a message that starkly contrasted with the positive signs seen in the US banks, with CEO Oswald Gruebel pre-announcing a loss for the bank for the first quarter and further heavy job cuts. Three weeks ahead of the scheduled disclosure, Gruebel said that the bank expected to report a net loss of about SFr2bn (US$1.7bn) in the first quarter, with the losses stemming from SFr3.9bn of losses on previously disclosed illiquid risk positions, credit loss expenses and valuation adjustments on the last positions that had been transferred to the Swiss central bank’s bail-out vehicle for UBS. The bank said that in spite of the loss, further measures to reduce the size of its balance sheet and risk-weighted assets meant that it would have a Tier 1 ratio of about 10% for the first quarter.

First Reserve Corp. an energy-focused private equity firm, has closed its twelfth fund with US$9bn in capital commitments. Limited partners include CalSTRS and CalPERS.