Last word

Global fund manager Standard Life Investments announced launch and first close of its European Strategic Partners 2004 fund, a private equity fund of funds that will invest in European private equity funds and will make direct investments. The fund raised €250m at first close, with strong support from UK local authorities and US and UK corporate pension schemes. Final close is scheduled for September 2005, with a target of €300m.

  • Bridgepoint acquired Faith Shoes, the mid-priced women’s footwear retailer, for £64m, backed by debt from Barclays. For the year ended June 30, the company generated net sales of £73.5m. Faith is Bridgepoint’s eighth investment this year from the €2bn Bridgepoint Europe II fund.

The firm has exited 14 companies and returned over £500m to its investors.

  • Overseas Shipholding Group has agreed to buy Stelmar, the Athens-based oil shipping company, for US$1.3bn. The company had been seeking new bidders after rejecting a US$703m takeover bid from Fortress Investments. That was rejected after founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou rallied shareholders because he believed it was too low. Stelmar shares were up 7.58% to US$47.80 on December 14.
  • Aim-listed investment vehicle Melrose may abandon its pursuit of Novar on the back of a higher bid from Honeywell International. The cash shell, which is led by Christopher Miller, who built up the Wassall conglomerate, was planning to overhaul the company without taking it private. Honeywell is offering £815m for Novar, which it plans to break up by selling unwanted assets.
  • ArmorGroup, a portfolio company of mid-market private equity firm Granville Baird Capital Partners, priced its IPO. The shares were well received by the market, rising to 147p on December 14, up from a listing price of 125p. Granville Baird Capital Partners did not sell any shares in the IPO and retains a 33% stake in the company. Earlier this year the firm successfully listed another portfolio company, Public Recruitment Group.