NeSBIC’s Converging Technology Fund Hits Target

NeSBIC Groep in mid-December was putting the finishing touches to the NeSBIC Converging Technologies Europe Fund (NeSBIC CTE Fund), which is set to close on or above its DFl 100 million (ecu 45 million) target. Robert Wilhelm, an investment director of the fund, said the final close could be extended into the new year and was therefore unable to confirm the fund’s total at press time.

By its first close in October, the NeSBIC CTE Fund had signed up DFl 90 million.

Fortis, NeSBIC’s parent, agreed to act as cornerstone investor and originally undertook to provide 32.5% of the fund’s capital (EVCJ June/July 1998, page 8). However, NeSBIC CTE Fund also attracted a substantial commitment from Generale Bank of Belgium, which was subsequently acquired by Fortis. As a result, Fortis reduced its contribution to 20% of the fund’s total to match the Generale Bank commitment. Other investors include the Netherlands insurance group REAL, two medium-sized Dutch pension funds, the European Investment Fund, and two large private family investment vehicles. Investors at the second closing are likely to include a Swiss fund-of-funds, a major US institution and additional participants from the Netherlands.

The NesBIC CTE Fund is targeting opportunities spawned by the convergence of technologies in the telecommunications, media and information technology sectors, which are highly interdependent. The Internet is perhaps the most visible example of technology convergence to have emerged to date. NeSBIC CTE Fund, which has a pan-European remit, will invest in young growth companies involved in information software/ groupware applications, multimedia content and enabling technologies, data communications and telecommunications, Internet and intranet applications and interactive content publishing. Despite the recent proliferation in venture funds across Europe, NeSBIC believes the converging technologies sector is still seriously underfunded, a view that is supported by the strong deal flow attracted by NeSBIC CTE Fund to date.

So far, the fund has deployed approximately DFl 15 million in five investments, the most recent of which was Consul Risk Management (story, page 28). The earlier investments were in Amsterdam-based VersaTel Telecoms, one of the fastest-growing companies in the Benelux market, which plans a Nasdaq IPO during 1999; the e-commerce services provider ECGate, which has operations in the Netherlands, Israel and the US; Personal Care Card, a Dutch firm that applies database technologies to develop loyalty marketing programmes; and Internet Applications Group of the UK, which specialises in database tools for Internet applications.