Pantheon Ups Assets, Seeks New Fund

The Pantheon in Rome is one of that city’s great acient wonders and a symbol of the ingenuity of ancient architecture and design. While secondary private equity buyer Pantheon Ventures, may not have such lofty aspirations, it is one of the pillars of the ever-growing secondary market. Last month its parent company, publicly-traded Pantheon International Participations (PIP), announced increases in returns and private equity commitments as Pantheon Ventures is preparing to raise a new fund.

PIP announced that the last six months of 2005 saw its total assets rise by more than $93 million (£53.6 million) to $759 million (£435 million). PIP took $138 million (£79.3 million) in cash assets during the last six months of 2005, a significant jump in profits considering that it almost reaches the assets received for the previous year up to June of 2005, $157 million (£90.1 million).

PIP detailed its private equity commitments for the last six months of 2005 as well. The London-based private equity manager invested $68 million (£39.2 million) in buying private equity funds during the last six months of last year. The majority of its fund shares were in U.S.-based venture funds, but this is a marked shift in direction for the firm. Pantheon usually prefers buyout fund assets. The firm avoided doing venture deals through much of the life of its first dedicated secondary fund, which closed in 2000 with $418 million.

PIP also announced it would increase its commitments to primary funds from $523 million (£300 million) to $784 million (£450 million) over a three-year investment period. In the last six months of 2005, PIP committed $125 million (£71.8 million) to primary funds. PIP committed to six U.S.-based buyout funds, two U.S.-based venture capital funds, two U.S.-based special situation funds and three European buyout funds and one European special situations fund.

The new fund, Pantheon Global Secondary Fund III, has a target of $1.5 billion, according to a source familiar with the secondary fundraising market. The firm declined to comment on the fund, citing Securities and Exchange Commission regulations and firm policy against commenting on funds until a final close.

Less than two years ago, the private equity giant closed its second dedicated secondary fund, Pantheon Global Secondary Fund II, with $900 million (see Buyouts, Aug. 9, 2004). Limited partners in that fund included Bullshead D, the Federal Express Corp. Employees Pension Plan Trust and the University Retirement System of Illinois. Bullshead was represented by JPMorgan Chase Bank.

In Fund II, approximately 50% of the fund’s capital came from LPs in Europe, 30% from North America and the rest from investors in Asia and Australia. More than 80% of the funding came from pension plans both public and private, with endowments and foundations making up most of the remaining 20 percent. Pantheon, founded in 1982, was acquired in 2004 by the Russell Investment Group. Pantheon Ventures has more than $10 billion under management, according to Thomson Financial (publisher of Buyouts). The firm has committed more than $2 billion to secondary deals since 1987. Pantheon is headquartered in London and has offices in San Francisco, Brussels, Hong Kong and Sydney, Australia. —M.S.