Augusta Columbia Capital, launched by former Blackstone tech investor Paul ‘Chip’ Schorr, is focusing on building a few separately managed accounts with some large institutional investors as fundraising on its debut vehicle approaches the two year mark, according to several sources with knowledge of the process.
Fund I, targeting $750 million, was launched around August 2011. The official launch date is not clear, but several media reports published in August 2011 said the fundraising was imminent. It’s also not clear if the fund has yet held a first close, or how much it has raised.
Augusta Columbia declined to comment about fundraising. Credit Suisse has been working as placement agent on the fundraising. Fund I is unique in that it includes a 10 percent GP commitment in cash, a person with knowledge of the fund told Private Equity International in a prior interview, which is high in general but especially for a first time fund.
Two sources characterised the firm’s focus on launching separate accounts with some large clients as complementary to the traditional fundraising. While Augusta Columbia will continue to raise its debut fund, it has also expanded its focus on garnering separate account money.
Several market sources described the fundraising as “challenging”, though it’s not clear why. Debut funds generally are expected to have a tough time winning commitments from LPs in today’s difficult fundraising environment. However, Augusta Columbia would seem to have answered a potential LP concern about lack of track record – its roster of professionals, including Schorr, bring more than enough investment experience to the table.
Schorr played a lead role in Blackstone’s investment in Freescale Semiconductor, according to two sources with knowledge of the deal. Blackstone was part of an investor group that included TPG, Permira and The Carlyle Group, that took Freescale private for $17.6 billion in 2006. That investment was written down by as much as 85 percent at the depths of the economic downturn in 2009, according to a source who spoke with PEI at the time.
While Freescale has been a challenging investment, Schorr also led some other, more successful deals, including semiconductor company Intersil, which generated a 21x return and Ntelos, which produced a 5.4x return, according to a source with knowledge of the deals.
Augusta Columbia was launched in 2011 by Schorr, and he quickly assembled a superstar roster of talent around technology investing. He was joined by some former colleagues including Jamie Urry, who came from Court Square Capital Partners, where Schorr worked for nine years prior to joining Blackstone in 2005. Clayton Albertson joined from Blackstone, where he worked as a principal in the private equity group focusing on tech investments along with Schorr.
Former TPG Growth executive David ibnAle joined Augusta Columbia’s San Francisco office later in 2011 as well as former Citigroup executive Michael Stephenson. Stephenson had been a member of the tech private equity team at Citigroup Venture Capital with Schorr. Last year, the firm brought on Jeff Clarke as a managing director in the San Francisco office.