After winning the 2007 EVCJ award in the category of VC House of the Year, DFJ Esprit has had another strong year.
Over the past 12 months, DFJ Esprit has continued the development of its brand while making solid investments and one of the strongest exits in Europe to date. Buy.at’s sale to AOL was a profitable exit that returned US$70m+ cash to their LPs which was one of the largest cash returns from a European VC exit in 2008.
The firm acted decisively to the challenges thrown up by the worsening economic conditions. During late 2007, world stock markets and, in particular, private equity trusts share prices fell dramatically as the credit crunch bit. Following consultation with the major shareholders and the board of the Prelude Trust, DFJ Esprit found a secondary purchaser for the Prelude portfolio of 14 companies, raising US$100m from Coller Capital to take Prelude private in June 2008. As part of this, DFJ Esprit secured an additional US$50m to be invested in this portfolio over the next five years.
This secondary fund raising comes on top of the US$150m unannounced partial secondary that DFJ Esprit ran during 2007 for the second fund DFJ Esprit acquired from Cazenove. This process saw CEO Simon Cook bringing on board global LPs such as Harbourvest Partners, Wilshire and LGT. DFJ Esprit has also continued to make investments in 2008, which have included LOVEFiLM International’s acquisition of Amazon Europe’s DVD rental business in the United Kingdom and Germany and Imagine Communications Group’s acquisition of Irish Broadband, establishing it as the number one alternative provider of communications solutions in Ireland.
Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners
Fountain Healthcare Partners
Nomura Phase4 Ventures