PE fund briefs, week of Feb. 15, 2010

Freeman Spogli chipping away at fund six

Los Angeles-based buyout firm Freeman & Spogli & Co. has raised $419.2 million toward its sixth buyout fund, according to a regulatory filing.

The firm entered the market with FS Equity Partners VI last year, targeting to raise $1.75 billion. But in the past 12 months, Freeman & Spogli has yet to hit the halfway point.

The firm raised $1 billion for its previous fund, which closed in 2003.

Freeman Spogli’s sixth fund has received a $40 million commitment from School Employees Retirement System of Ohio and additional investments from the Florida State Board of Administration and the Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management Board.

The firm, based in Los Angeles, was founded in 1983 as Riordan Freeman & Spogli by Richard Riordan, who later became mayor of Los Angeles, Bradford Freeman and Ronald Spogli. —Erin Griffith

Aureos raises $381M for new Africa fund

Private equity firm Aureos Capital has raised $381.1 million for a new fund investing in small and medium-sized businesses in Africa.

The London-based firm aims to make initial investments of up to $10 million in businesses that have potential to expand across Africa within two to three years, Aureos said in a statement.

The firm has already invested about $120 million in 10 companies, including an East African milk production firm, a Nigerian biscuit manufacturer and a cement company in Senegal, it said.

Aureos says it has $1.2 billion under management in over 50 emerging markets in Asia, Africa and Latin America, through 16 regional private equity funds. —Carolyn Cohn, Reuters

Invision Capital raising debut fund

Invision Capital is raising up to $50 million for its debut fund, according to a regulatory filing. The Chicago-based firm plans to focus on buyout investments in the lower middle-markets.

Invision’s principals include Robert Castillo, founder partner of Valor Equity Partners; Thomas Harrison, co-founder of Diamond Creek Capital; and John Devaney, also a co-founder of Diamond Creek Capital.

The firm already has secured more than $15 million in commitments.

MicroVest closes fund

Bethesda, Md.-based MicroVest Capital Management, raised $60 million for MicroVest II, a private equity fund targeting microfinance institutions worldwide.

J.P. Morgan Securities Inc. acted as a placement agent, and one of its affiliates was a lead investor. In addition to J.P. Morgan, investors include the International Finance Corp., CARE USA, Kinnevick New Ventures AB, The Prudential Insurance Company of America, Christian Super Pyt, Ltd. and Mennonite Economic Development Associates.

Clarity sets clear path for $650M

Clarity Partners, a Los Angeles-based private equity firm, is raising up to $650 million for its second China-focused fund, according to a regulatory filing. Clarity’s first China fund closed in 2007 with $220 million in capital commitments.

Triton spears over $3B

Triton Partners, a Frankfurt, Germany-based buyout firm focused on the European middle markets, reportedly has closed its third fund with more than $3 billion in capital commitments, ahead of its $2.7 billion target.

The firm raised about $1.4 billion for its second fund, which closed in 2006.

Merlin looks to hook $75M

Merlin Nexus, f.k.a. Merlin BioMed Private Equity, is raising its fourth fund with a reported $75 million target. The New York-based firm raised about $43 million in 2008 for its third fund, which invests in public and late stage private companies.

Insight raises $525M

Insight Equity, a Dallas-based private equity firm focused on the middle markets, announced that it has closed its second fund at $525 million, including $90 million for mezzanine investing. The target was previously reported at $750 million.

The firm raised $250 million for its first fund, which closed in 2005.

Oaktree targets $800M

Oaktree Capital Management

is raising its third energy fund, according to a regulatory filing. The firm is targeting $800 million with a hard cap of $1 billion.

It’s the firm’s first energy-focused effort without its former partner, GFI Energy Ventures, which sold its franchise to Oaktree, according to LBO Wire.