In brief top news

The board of De Vere Group has confirmed press speculation that the UK-listed company has received a preliminary approach that may or may not lead to takeover offer being made. De Vere’s shares jumped 7% to 801p in early trading on March 23, valuing the company at £628m (US$1.1bn).

The Daily Mail newspaper had reported that De Vere had received an 800p per share offer from private equity group Blackstone Group. Other reports claimed that Spain’s NH Hoteles group had approached De Vere with a view to acquiring the company.

De Vere had rejected a bid approach from a private equity group in December. It is attractive to financial investors as it has significant property assets that could be cashed in through sales and lease-backs.

  • Buchanan Capital Partners, the German private equity arm of Buchanan Capital Group, has announced that it is currently fundraising for a €150m private equity fund aimed at family-owned businesses within German-speaking Europe.

The group is run by Peter Blumenwitz (formerly with Apax Partners), Frank Henkelmann (formerly with General Atlantic) and Herbert Seggewib (formerly with 3i Germany).

The fund is to distinguish itself from other private equity funds by focusing on providing growth capital in return for minority stakes, according to Peter Blumenwitz.

Blumenwitz believes that this represents a market niche, as many of the established funds have grown too large to consider providing expansion capital in return for minority investments in small to medium-sized companies. Blumenwitz believes, furthermore, that those venture capital funds that still consider smaller investments tend to be interested in high tech growth companies.

  • ABN AMRO Capital France, the private equity arm of the Dutch ABN AMRO Group, and French private equity firm Astorg Partners have completed the acquisition of the OFIC Group, a French producer of roofing materials and packaging for eggs formerly known as Omnium Francais Industriel et Commercial. The enterprise value amounted to €210m.

OFIC employs more than 1,000 staff and generated revenues of €250m in 2005. Its principal markets are in France, Spain, Italy, Poland, Russia and Turkey. Senior debt was provided by IXIS, while mezzanine finance was provided by European Capital.

  • Pomona Capital, an Anglo-American secondary and funds of private equity funds firm, has made its second hire of March by recruiting Barry Miller as a principal.

Miller had spent the last six years at AXA Private Equity, the alternatives arm of the French insurer that has just reshuffled its team, where he was a senior investment manager and head of the New York office. He previously spent two years as a senior associate in alternative investments at Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette.

Based in New York, he will be responsible for sourcing, analysing and closing secondary transactions for Pomona’s US$1.8bn secondary funds business. In September, Pomona closed its sixth secondary interest private equity fund at US$821m.