Moves afoot at Mercury Private Equity

Mercury Private Equity hopes by December this year to complete its own management buyout, which was announced back in July this year. Although Mercury Private Equity’s head Ian Armitage prefers to describe the move as establishing a new enterprise due to the variety of undertakings the new enterprise will have to give in order to achieve its independence from its owner Merrill Lynch, via the Mercury Asset Management subsidiary.

Independence will mean continuing with the Mercury Private Equity name and continuing to run the same pool of capital. However, going forward new investments will be made from Must 4. Armitage notes that almost GBP400 million in commitments has been received from existing investors in Mercury Private Equity managed funds and between now and the new year a further GBP400 million will be raised. The fund raising task falls to Craig Donald who joined Mercury Private Equity in September this year from the Prudential Corporation of America.

Donald is one of many hires that Armitage has made in recent months all gearing up for the independent life ahead. Mercury Private Equity’s staff investment team is currently at 18 this is both investment professionals and analysts. Armitage took the decision to home grow Mercury Private Equity’s investment professionals some 12 months around the time that the market for experienced venture capitalists became ever tighter and more expensive. For this reason when Armitage announces the formation of Mercury Private Equity’s new media team early next year it will be with two investment professionals understood to already have been identified and a pool of analysts that in time might grow to investment professional status.

Also next year Armitage intends to open an office for Mercury Private Equity in France. The office will be staffed by one of the firm’s existing investment professionals who is also a French speaker and a hire will be made in the French market.

In May last year Mercury Private Equity opened its Frankfurt office under the leadership of Trevor Bailey. Since then two investments have been made and Armitage promises that a third, this time in the healthcare space, is imminent.

Last month Mercury Private Equity hired Roman Pelka into its general LBO team as an associate director based in London and Philipp Schwalber, again as associate director, based in Germany see evcj November, p36.