Bridgepoint buyout fund oversubscribed

Bridgepoint's closing on E2bn after targeting E1.6bn is the latest example of the popularity large European funds are currently enjoying on the buyside.

UK private equity firm Bridgepoint Capital has held a final closing of its Second European Private Equity Fund (EPEF II) at just over E2bn, some way ahead of the fund’s original E1.6bn target.

The final closing is in keeping with many of the larger funds that have closed ahead of target. In late April, Cinven announced the final closing of its third fund at E4.3bn against an original target of £3.5bn, whilst Warburg Pincus closed its global private equity fund at $5.3bn, $300m up on its original target figure.

The latest fund, which has an investment period of up to five years, continues Bridgepoint’s strategy of investing in European middle-market buyouts. The fund has received investments from 60 investors, including E1bn from existing investors in EPEF I as well as new investors from Europe, North America and the Far and Middle East.

Bridgepoint partner James Murray said it was good news that the fund had surpassed its original target. “I think the fund’s success reflects strong investor interest in mid-market European buyouts. Over half of the fund’s financing came from previous investors which is a testament to our strong realisations record.” Murray added that the firm expects to complete a number of realisations from EPEF I over the coming months.

The firm is targeting investments in buyout transactions capitalised at up to E400m, making equity investments of between E15m and E100m. The fund has already made its first three investments: the E206m buyout and de-listing of WT Foods, a UK manufacturer and distributor of ethnic and speciality foods; the E176m deal to acquire a 55 per cent stake in Virgin Active, the health and fitness business and the E67m buyout of the UK specialist hire company Hydrex Group. According to Murray, the fund has returned over $1bn to investors over the last 18 months.

Bridgepoint Capital has offices in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Nordic region. The firm closed two UK offices earlier this year. “We are now completing over 50 per cent of our deals in continental Europe,” added Murray. The firm made 65 investments during the life of The European Private Equity Fund (EPEF I). This fund was closed in April 1999 and was also oversubscribed and capped at £1bn.

Placement agents to EPEF II were Helix Associates and Jerome P Greene & Associates.  UK legal advisers to EPEF II are SJ Berwin.