Venture Capital – Danske PE tempted by wealth of Nordic opportunities

Danske Private Equity (Danske PE), the recently formed Den Danske Bank subsidiary, is not letting the grass grow under its feet. Following the creation last month of its first vehicle, a fund-of-funds (EVCJ April 2000, page 14), it has launched a DKr1 billion (a134 million) venture fund-raising exercise for Danske eVentures.

As its name suggests, Danske eVentures will focus on the IT, Internet and telecommunications sectors, investing primarily throughout the Nordic region but also elsewhere. Danske PE has appointed John Helmse-Zinck as managing director of Danske eVentures. Before joining Danske eVentures, Helmse-Zinck, a one-time managing director of AT Kearney in Denmark, was managing director of IT and communications consultancy Helmse-Zinck & Kastbjerg (HZK). Danske e-Ventures has taken over part of the consultancy business – a move that is apparently something of a formality, as Helmse-Zinck explains: “It’s basically a matter of eVentures being permitted to use the same contact network and database [as HZK]”.

So Danske PE, like so many other players, is moving into the e-investment arena. Asked what would differentiate the Danske eVentures fund from its peers, Helmse-Zinck points to potential synergies with the parent bank, which are expected to improve the quality of deal flow, and the possibility of accessing global syndication opportunities and international contacts via Danske Private Equity Partners, Danske eVentures’ fund-of-funds stable-mate.

Helmse-Zinck reports that Danske eVentures aims to build a six-strong management team, adding, “Our ambition is to form a team with a good balance of skills and an emphasis on the technological and operational side since we are able to draw on expertise from other divisions within Danske Bank.” The fund will typically take minority holdings of 15 per cent or more in companies with capital requirements of between

DKr15 million and DKr150 million and will pursue a strategy of active ownership’.

The formation of Danske eVentures was prompted by the volume of quality IT, Internet and communications deal flow throughout the Nordic region. Bjrn Haugaard Rubin, Danske PE’s managing director, says the fund already has several investment opportunities in its sights” and predicts that the fund will invest in 20 to 25 businesses within the next two to three years.

Marketing for the fund is concentrated on the Nordic markets, but Danske PE will not exclude investors from outside the region. “We have received strong indications of interest and envision holding a first close within the next month or so and possibly a final close by August”, says Helmse-Zinck.