Swiss Bank Holds First Close On European Fund of Funds

Firm: LODH Private Equity AG, a subsidiary of Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch

Fund: Euro Choice IV

Target: €600 million ($925 million)

Amount Raised: €300 million at first close

Placement Agent: Mallory Capital Group LLC

Legal Advisors: Debevoise & Plimpton LLP (U.S.); Bedell Cristin (Jersey)

LODH Private Equity AG, EUROPE!! a subsidiary of Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch, a Swiss private bank, is raising Euro Choice IV, a private equity fund of funds dedicated to the lower and middle mid-market. The firm seeks to raise €600 million ($925 million) for the fund, earmarked for country- and region-specific buyout, growth equity and turnaround funds in Western and Eastern Europe.

The funds chosen for the fund of funds are expected to be diversified by industry, geography, vintage and strategy. A first close was held on July 11 with €300 million ($460 million), and a final close is expected by year-end, according to Thomas Frei, managing director. The firm’s backers represent a cross section of European, Middle Eastern and North American institutions, such as family offices, public and private pension funds, endowments and foundations.

Euro Choice III closed in the fourth quarter of 2006 with €493 million, far surpassing its original €350 million goal, according to Regula Mori, director, marketing and investor relations. Dutch pension fund Stichting Nedlloyd Pensioenfonds was a backer. In June 2004, the firm closed Euro Choice II with $268 million, exceeding its $250 million target. Some of Fund II’s U.S. backers were Avaya Corporation’s pension fund, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, ITT Industries Inc.’s pension fund, the Plymouth County (Mass.) Retirement System and Schlumberger Limited’s corporate pension fund.

Some of the vehicles that LODH Private Equity has backed in the past as a limited partner include funds run by Chequers Capital, a Paris-based buyout firm that specializes in French middle-market companies, and Euroventures Hungary III, which invests in growth capital and buyout deals for companies in Hungary and other countries in Central Europe, as previously reported in Buyouts.

Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch, founded in 1796, is an independent, family-owned private bank. The firm has more than $130 billion of assets worldwide, 2,000 employees, and 24 branches in 18 countries, with its headquarters in Geneva. The bank engages only in wealth management and asset management for high-net-worth and institutional clients. It’s not involved in investment banking, commercial banking or retail banking. Currently the bank has two senior partners: Thierry Lombard and Pierre Darier, who plan to hand over their roles to Patrick Odier in January 2009, when they will become managing partners.