Italy-Focused PE Fund Gets Pledges From U.S. LPs

Two U.S. pension plans chose an Italy-specific fund to receive private equity investment slugs in July.

The $16 billion San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System and the $34 billion Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System have both committed €20 million ($31.7 million) each to Clessidra Capital Partners II, which has a target of $2.4 billion.

The commitments help illustrate growing limited-partner interest in country-specific buyout funds. “Over the last several years the SERS Board has been moving, across the entire fund, to achieve greater global diversity and international exposure,” said Robert Gentzel, spokesperson for Pennsylvania SERS. “The Clessidra fund will focus on investments in the Italian market and thus will help broaden SERS’ international private equity exposure.”

Clessidra SGR S.p.A., the fund’s Milan, Italy-based management company, was established in February 2003 to invest in utilities and infrastructure. Earlier this year, Clessidra SGR acquired a 40 percent stake in Italy’s largest toy manufacturer, Giochi Preziosi.

Clessidra SGR raised $1.1 billion for its first buyout fund, which closed in 2005. At the time, it was Italy’s largest such fund. Clessidra Capital Partners II was established in January 2008, according to a regulatory filing, and has a minimum investment of $40,000.

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System committed roughly $60 million to Clessidra Capital Partners’s 2005 vehicle and reports a net IRR of 105.7 percent for the fund as of Dec. 31, 2007.