PE fund briefs, week of Dec. 14, 2009

Perseus narrows focus for eighth fund

Washington, D.C.-based private equity firm Perseus has narrowed its focus for its latest fund to distressed companies and growth equity investments, PE Week has learned.

As previously reported, Perseus VIII is targeted at $600 million, similar to the amount that the firm raised for its previous fund in 2007.

Dave Davis, senior managing director, says that firm has begun fund-raising, but he wouldn’t disclose any details of its progress. PE Week reported in early October that the firm was firm planning to hold a first close on fund VIII during the fourth quarter.

Investors in fund VII include the New Mexico Educational Retirement Board, the North Carolina Retirement System, the Massachusetts-based Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission and the University of California, according to public documents.

A source familiar with the situation previously said that all, or almost all, investors in fund VII are expected to re-up for the new vehicle.

The firm is known for investing in a mix of industries, including software, computer hardware, energy, pharmaceuticals and retail commerce, such as tennis shoe maker Converse Inc.

Perseus made five investments this year with a $3.2 million average investment per company, compared to last year where the firm made eight investments with a $6.5 million average investment, according to Thomson Reuters (Publisher of PE Week).

Perseus has invested in growth equity companies as part of fund VII. It recently backed in-flight-entertainment provider Lumexis, and footwear company Established Brands International, says Davis. —Martha Sanchez-Avila and Ari Nathanson

Pantheon plugging away on secondaries fund

U.K.-based Pantheon International has raised $950 million toward its fourth fund aimed at the private equity secondaries market, according to a regulatory filing. That’s a modest rise from the $343.6 million it had raised a year ago but a testament to the fact that investors are willing to get behind secondaries funds, albeit slowly.

Pantheon’s fund, Pantheon Global Secondary Fund IV, has a target of $4.75 billion, according to a regulatory filing. However, an April report from Probitas Partners pits the fund’s target at $3.75 billion. Pantheon raised $2 billion in commitments for its previous fund, a 2006 vintage.

Pantheon isn’t the only secondary fund that is experience slow fund-raising progress this year.

Landmark Partners has now raised $1.5 billion in commitments for its 14th fund, which had closed on $590 million as of March. The firm plans to meet its $2 billion target in the first quarter. Landmark has already deployed at least 10% of the fund. The firm’s prior fund, Landmark Equity Partners XII, closed in 2006 with $1.2 million in investments.

Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs closed its fifth fund in April with $5.5 billion in commitments, the largest ever vehicle dedicated to private equity secondaries. The firm’s prior fund had closed with $3 billion in commitments in 2007. —Erin Griffith

Hudson wraps up cleantech fund

Hudson Clean Energy Partners has officially closed its debut fund, Hudson Clean Energy Partners, with commitments of $1.024 billion. The fund had a target of $1 billion.

C.P. Eaton Partners served as lead placement agent for the fund, and was assisted by Credit Suisse and Poalim Ventures Ltd.

Investment areas that interest Hudson Clean Energy Partners are wind, solar, biomass, energy efficiency and energy storage. The fund would look at grid-scale energy storage as well as automotive applications, says John Cavalier, managing partner.

The late stage expansion growth capital fund intends to invest about $50 million to $150 million on average in one transaction. It typically does not invest in early stage companies.

The fund is looking to invest in about 10 to 12 cleantech companies over the next couple of years.

The Teaneck, N.J.-based firm was founded by Managing Partner Neil Auerbach in 2006. Prior to launching the new firm, Auerbach was a partner at Goldman Sachs, where he co-founded the financial giant’s U.S. alternative energy investment business. —Reuters