PE fund briefs, week of May 19, 2008

Merlin conjures up $40M

Merlin Nexus has held a $40 million first close for its third fund, which is being marketed with a $125 million target. The New York-based firm, which raised $40 million for fund II in 2005, focuses on late-stage and PIPE opportunities in the life sciences space.

Limited Partners include Permal Capital Management and Capital E Group.

Pfingsten closes fund IV

Pfingsten Partners has closed its fourth fund with $525 million in capital commitments. The Chicago-based firm focuses on middle-market opportunities in the manufacturing, distribution and business service sectors.

Pfingsten raised $285 million for its third fund in 2003.

Blackstone forms Asian hedge practice

The Blackstone Group announced the formation of Blackstone Altius Advisors, an event-driven strategy focused on opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region. It will be led by Aaron Nieman, who previously was with S.A.C. Capital Management as a managing director in the Canvas Capital Management division. Joining him is COO Christopher Pesce, who previously was global head of prime brokerage at Bank of America.

Blackstone’s other businesses in Asia include its corporate private equity fund (Blackstone Capital Partners), its real estate opportunity fund (Blackstone Real Estate Partners), its fund of hedge funds business and two closed-end mutual funds (The India Fund and The Asia Tigers Fund).