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Vontobel bounces back with new funds

Vontobel, the Swiss banking group, has launched two new funds, demonstrating that it remains firmly committed to private equity, despite the difficulties of the past year. The launch of two new direct investment products, Vontobel Early Stage Ventures and Vontobel Late Stage Ventures, is accompanied by the news that Vontobel Private Equity is expanding its advisory and management services.

Peter Stauffer, investment advisor at Vontobel, said: “The launch of these new funds is part of a whole new strategy, rather than its focus.” Moving forward, Vontobel plans to focus on European institutional clients, offering customised advisory and management services and tailor-made private equity programmes. Clients, including some high net worth individuals, will also have access to Vontobel’s own product range including Vontobel European Ventures, a fund-of-funds.

Vontobel Early Stage Ventures will focus on technology companies in Western Europe, particularly in German speaking countries. The fund will invest in the IT, software and telecoms sectors. It will not make seed investments or participate in first round financings unless another established VC is involved. The other fund, Vontobel Late Stage Ventures, is targeting the technology and life science sector in Europe. Investments from this fund

will be in pre-IPO stage companies.

Both funds are already up and running and due diligence is currently underway on two investments. Stauffer believes in the current fund raising climate it’s too early to announce target sizes for the funds. As part of its alternative asset allocation Vontobel group has contributed “a significant amount” to the two new funds. Stauffer is confident Vontobel’s freedom from a weighty portfolio is a distinct advantage, enabling the Zurich-based investment team to focus on new investment opportunities. Beat Ngeli, member of the executive board of Bank Vontobel, heads the six strong team.

Earlier this year, two Vontobel funds, Private Equity Holding and 5E Holding, cancelled their management contracts with the group and switched to Swiss Life Private Equity. This move followed the sacking of three company executives in March. A breakdown of trust between Vontobel and the funds was blamed for the split.