Washington State Re-Ups With $300 Million to Providence

The Washington State Investment Board approved a $300 million commitment to a new fund being raised by Providence Equity Partners, the Providence Equity Partners VII, L.P. The fund is reportedly seeking to raise about $8 billion, according to Dow Jones.

Liz Mendizabal, who heads up public affairs for the Washington State pension, said the state has had a longstanding relationship with Providence Equity Partners. “We have confidence in them and have been pleased with the results,” she said.

The Olympia, Wash.-based pension, which manages $79.4 billion in assets, last made a commitment to Providence Equity Partners of $250 million to its previous fund, the Providence Equity Partners VI, L.P. That fund, which ultimately raised $12 billion, closed in 2007, just before the financial crisis struck. As of Sept. 2010, that fund has had a negative 0.8 percent net IRR after investing most of its committed capital.

Providence Equity Partners, founded in 1989 and based in Providence, R.I., focuses on investments in the media and communications industries. With $23 billion under management, it is one of the nation’s largest private equity firms that concentrate on a single industry.

Some of its investments have included stakes in such high-profile companies as the Yankees YES Network, the Warner Music Group, Hulu, CDW and Univision Communications.

Among state pension funds, Washington State has one of the nation’s largest private equity programs, with $14.7 billion in existing private equity assets. Private equity represents about 25-percent of its main fund’s total assets.

The pension’s last major commitment was a $500 million check in March 2011 to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts’s newest fund, the KKR North American XI Fund.