Aletheia Partners to raise debut fund

The private equity firm set up by Robert Tchenguiz and Scott Lanphere is planning to raise between £300m and £500m to invest in businesses with significant property assets.

Robert Tchenguiz, the Iranian businessman who recently launched an ultimately unsuccessful bid to acquire UK department store chain Selfridges, has unveiled details of his proposed entry into the European private equity market.

Tchenguiz, who specialises in property-backed investments, has joined with Scott Lanphere, the former director at Morgan Grenfell Private Equity [MGPE] who gained prominence as a result of MGPE’s investment in Formula 1. The two intend to raise a fund targeting investments in companies with sizeable property assets.

Tchenguiz told the Financial Times that he plans to raise between £300m and £500m to invest in companies with existing management teams to run property-based businesses with solid cashflows.

Tchenguiz already owns a real estate fund, Rotch Property, alongside brother Vincent. This real estate business owns Shell-Mex House and West LB’s London headquarters, and is also invested in property-based businesses including UK pub chain Pubmaster and Asite, a construction industry business also backed by US buyout firm Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts.

Rotch has also worked with WestLB on a number of transactions, including the £200m management buyout of Kyndal in October 2001, which comprised £188m of debt funding from WestLB and £12m in equity from Rotch.

Tchenguiz last month withdrew from the race to acquire UK department store Selfridges following the acceptance of a £598m offer from Canadian billionaire Galen Weston. Most recently, WestLB’s principal finance unit and Rotch joined forces to buy UK cinema chain Odeon from private equity house Cinven in a transaction worth £430.6m.

West LB is itself at present debating the future of its principal finance operation, which is headed by Robin Saunders. As reported on PEO last Friday, one scenario sees Saunders buying the equity invested by the unit out from the bank, something she is reported to be keen to pursue. Both Citigroup and Lehman Brothers have also expressed interest in acquiring the portfolio.