KKR Back In Market For Euro Fund III

Following a spate of big-ticket buyouts overseas, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. is beginning to talk to LPs about raising its next European fund, likely to be much larger than its previous €4.5 billion vehicle.

A source at one major LP told Buyouts it would be meeting later this month with KKR to discuss re-upping. A spokesman for New York-based KKR declined comment.

The firm closed its previous European vehicle in October 2005, crushing an original target of €1.5 billion. It raised its first European fund in 1999, with $3 billion in commitments. The LP source did not know the new fund’s target.

Backers of the last fund included the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board, California Public Employees’ Retirement System, HarbourVest Partners, the state of Michigan, Oregon State Treasury, South Dakota Investment Council, and Washington State Investment Board. Oregon and Washington reportedly put $500 million each into the second fund.

KKR’s most recent play in Europe is the planned £10.6 billion ($21.0 billion) LBO of British drug store chain Alliance Boots. But the Boots deal is far from KKR’s only sizeable European transaction in the last two years. It clubbed with other buyout firms to buy Danish telecommunications company TDC A/S for $10.6 billion in late November 2005, then bought Dutch publisher VNU NV for $11.3 billion in January 2006, completing the two deals in the space of 6 weeks.

KKR debuted in Europe 11 years ago and has since established itself as one of the top sponsors on the continent. The firm is particularly strong in Germany, where portfolio companies include auto parts retailer A.T.U Handels GmbH & Co KG, waste manager Duales System Deutschland GmbH, forklift truck maker Kion Group and television broadcaster ProSiebeSat.1 Media AG.

Other notable holdings are Le Grand Electric, a Limoges, France-based electrical company with 31,000 employees; Maxeda, a retailer with 1,700 stores across Europe and almost €4 billion in sales, and Netherlands-based NXP, the former Philips Semiconductors.—M.C.