Oregon Targets Its Backyard

Oregon is the latest state to sink money into its area private equity groups with the goal of spurring local business development.

The Oregon Investment Fund (OIF), a $105 million state program developed in 2004, has committed $34 million to four private equity funds: buyout firms Evergreen Pacific Partners, with offices in Seattle and Portland, Ore., as well as Portland-based Riverlake Partners. Also receiving disbursements are the venture firms Buerk Dale Victor and Cascadia Partners.

These are simply the first four that weve identified in the process, says David Almodovar, a spokesman with Credit Suisse First Boston, which is spearheading the effort for OIF There are going to be others that follow.

OIF, in its application, cited a number of objectives in starting the fund. The pension aims to foster the creation and growth of companies in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, encourage the development of an Oregon-based private equity community, attract other regional and national PE funds to invest in the region and facilitate public and private partnerships within the state.

While the initiative is designed to spur development in Oregon, CSFBs mandate is to find funds that will generate the best possible returns for OIF, according to Almodovar.

Our foremost responsibility is to get the best returns we can, he says. There needs to be a commitment to this region, but were not requiring firms to make all of their investments here. There just needs to be an attempt on the part of the general partner to look at all of the opportunities in the region on a best-efforts basis.

However, he notes that it is important for the candidates to have a prior track record in the state and a reputation throughout the region.

Almodovar would not breakdown how much of a role that venture or buyout investments would play in the initiative. Nor would he say if there is a particular allocation to the asset class. He notes that he expects there will be a few more VC funds that receive commitments, but he says that could change.

In the past, the pension has invested in Leonard Green & Partners, Providence Equity Partners, First Reserve Corp. and Oaktree Capital Management, among other firms.