LGV closes fund and separates French and UK businesses

Legal & General Ventures (LGV) has closed its fourth private equity fund with commitments in excess of £180m. This is an increase of 17% on LGV’s previous fund. The fund has attracted six new LPs bringing the total number to 17. Legal & General remains the largest investor in the fund, but external investors now represent over 50% in value of the fund, its largest level of external commitments to date. LGV was advised by MVision Private Equity Advisers.

The fund will continue LGV’s existing strategy of investing in mid-market buyouts in the consumer, leisure and support services sectors. The geographic focus will be the UK following LGV’s decision to separate its UK and French businesses.

Adrian Johnson, CEO of the group since July 2000, said: “The market dynamics in France have changed significantly since we entered the market nearly ten years ago. Investors are showing more interest these days in country specific funds. LGV has a strong team of investment professionals in London that will continue to focus on the UK market.”

LGV’s French management team will subsequently raise an independent fund under the name Cobalt Capital. The team will continue to manage LGV’s existing French portfolio, which includes stakes in Cheynet, an elastic fibres manufacturer bought in 1999, and Moliflor, a casino operator acquired in 2002. The team will be led by Christophe Fercocq and Hervé Franc and will invest in MBOs with a value of between €30m and €200m. Fercocq and Franc set up the French business in 1996 and have demonstrated a successful track record over the past eight years with exits such as Santé Finance, Compagnie Générale Espace Verts and MGE-UPS.