WestLB prepares for final PE exit

German investment bank WestLB is preparing to spin off its last private equity unit and sell its stake in that fund on the secondary market.

WestLB’s latest spinout is West Private Equity, a buyout group started in 1999. The London-based group manages WPE Fund 2000, a $365 million buyout fund that invests in U.K.-based companies valued at between $18 million and $134 million.

WPE Fund 2000 invests in service industry companies such as those in the business outsourcing and technology, financial services, health care, education and media services. The fund is authorized to do specialist consumer, retail and industrial service company deals. The firm is raising a new independent fund.

WestLB declined to comment on the potential portfolio sale, but the bank has acknowledged it intends to sell off its private equity holdings. Cipio Partners announced in October that it won a corporate venture auction for the venture portfolio of West STEAG Partners, the venture group founded by WestLB and STEAG Electronic Systems to fund startups in the analytics, electronics, optics, MEMS and IT sectors.

The move to sell West Private Equity would conclude a process that the Dusseldorf-based bank has been involved with for several years, as it has been shedding its private equity subsidiaries and holdings to focus on client banking services.

The bank says that private investment will still be possible for its banking clients, though it has not detailed just how it would invest in private equity in those instances.