Bear Stearns ramps up

The US fund of funds secondaries investor is raising fresh capital whilst completing its Macquarie fund take-private.

Bear Stearns Private Equity, a London-listed private equity fund of funds, has launched a share issue to raise between $250 million (€162.7 million) and $350 million in fresh equity. It will use the capital to fund additional acquisitions over approximately the next nine months.

This is the company's fourth fundraising since it was launched in 2005 and reflects that fact that its portfolio is nearly fully committed and invested in private equity assets. The market for secondaries, a focus for Bear Stearns' fund, is also booming as investors take an evermore active approach to their alternative asset portfolios.

The proceeds will be used to invest in seasoned interests in private equity funds globally. Most recently the fund made a $104 million tender offer to delist a quoted fund of funds managed by the Australian bank Macquarie.

A source close to Bear Stearns said this secondary acquisition of private equity fund interests in Australia reflected the company's appetite for smaller fund managers and for those with exposure to emerging markets through regional hubs like Australia.

The placing price per share is estimated at a 2.12 percent premium to the 31 March 2008 net asset value, based on an issue size of $300 million. The final placing price will be announced on 18 April 2008. The premium represents the estimated costs and expenses of the placing.

Bear Stearns International, HSBC, JPMorgan Cazenove, and Natixis have been appointed as placing agents. JPMorgan Cazenove has been appointed sponsor.