Willowridge targets $650 mln for eighth secondaries fund

Willowridge Partners launched marketing on its eighth flagship fund, setting a target of $650 million, according to an SEC filing.

If successful, Amberbrook VIII would be 30 percent larger than its predecessor, which closed in 2016 at a $500 million hard cap. At present, the New York-based private equity firm manages about $1.4 billion of committed capital.

Investors backing Amberbrook VII included Northern Kentucky University Foundation, University of New Mexico Foundation and Western Michigan University Foundation.

Willowridge declined to comment on its fundraising activity.

Willowridge buys stakes in buyout, mezzanine, venture and other PE funds from limited partners seeking early liquidity. Sellers are both U.S.-based and international and include corporations, endowments and foundations, individual investors and pension plans.

Along with PE fund interests, Willowridge sometimes buys secondary direct company stakes and stakes in real estate funds. It may also selectively participate in private placements.

Willowridge specializes in acquiring mature partnership interests at the small end of the secondaries market, which it views as being subject to less competition, according to the firm’s ADV filing. The niche strategy is complemented by Willowridge’s ability to undertake certain large transactions by partnering with other secondary funds and funds-of-funds.

Amberbrook VIII is expected to maintain the strategy followed by prior funds.

Willowridge is led by Partner Jerrold Newman, who established the firm in 1992. Other senior members of the team include Partners Luisa Hunnewell, James O’Mara and Lawrence Fang. Willowridge reports completing more than 450 transactions and acquiring stakes in more than 1,100 funds since raising Amberbrook I in 1995.

The launch of Willowridge’s latest vehicle comes at a time of intensifying secondary fundraising. After a slow H1 2019, activity ramped up in the second half, PEI Media data showed, thanks to Blackstone Group’s Strategic Partners VIII, which closed in July at $11.1 billion. Lexington Partners is on the verge of wrapping up its ninth fund at a $12 billion target, Buyouts reported this month.

Others in the market include Kline Hill Partners, formed in 2015 by Managing Partner Michael Bego, previously a Willowridge partner. Kline Hill is preparing to unveil its third fund at a $425 million target, Buyouts reported in August.

Action Item: See Willowridge Partners’ ADV filing here.