WestAM Notches First Coreplus Close –

The private equity arm of global investment firm WestAM has achieved the first close of its COREplus Private Equity Partners Fund at over $180 million. The fund has a target of $500 million, and is fundraising at a steady pace with a second closing due this fall and a final close planned for next year.

COREplus Private Equity Partners Fund will primarily be a fund-of-funds investment vehicle, but will also consider selected co-investments in companies. It will be targeting the full spectrum of the private equity market including venture capital, middle and later stage financing, buyouts and structured finance.

Geographic focus will be split equally between the U.S., Europe and Asia, although as the fund managers are U.S.-based, there may be a slight bias towards U.S. investments. The fund has already identified several partnerships in which it plans to make investments including Morganthaler Venture Partners VII LP, Prism Venture Partners IV LP, Sovereign Capital LP III and Advanced Technology Ventures VII LP.

The firm is not in a position to name any of the investors in the fund, but it currently includes a number of U.S. and European commitments.

“We believe that the excellent investor response is due to several factors, including the return to a market discipline and a risk/return philosophy that we have not seen since pre-1995,” said Donald Phillips, chief investment officer of WestAM’s Private Equity Group. He added that the “tourists” who were looking for the quick returns have now gone from this sector and the market is left with the more serious, long-term investors who understand the fundamentals of private equity investing and have realistic expectations about market returns.

WestAM’s Private Equity Group provides a wide range of private equity services to its clients through both separate account management and funds-of-funds. The firm currently makes $2.7 billion in private investments for institutional investors and has made commitments to more than 100 partnerships. In February 2001, the private equity group successfully closed the $360 million Special Private Equity Partners fund-of-funds.