Castle puts off London listing

Turbulent public markets have halted the Swiss-listed fund of funds' plans to list on the London Stock Exchange.

Castle Private Equity has delayed its listing on the London Stock Exchange until the first quarter of 2009 due to volatility in capital markets.

“The board will continue to monitor the situation closely for the remainder of the year and hopes to be able to complete its listing preparations on schedule with a view to establishing a new timetable for admission to the London market early in the New Year”, the company said in a statement.

The firm said that a London listing would be of more interest to investors once calmer conditions prevail in both the markets generally and the listed private equity sector in particular. Castle is targeting a listing on the London Stock Exchange because it sees the London market as offering more “depth and sophistication” than its Swiss counterpart and having “a longer tradition of working with closed-ended investment trusts”.

“The European listed private equity sector has underperformed since equity markets started to fall precipitously in September,” JPMorgan Cazenove analyst Chris Brown said in a research note earlier this month. “Discounts on UK-listed private equity stocks reached their widest ever level of around 55 percent during the period.”

Castle is managed by LGT Private Equity Advisers, a joint venture between Lichtenstein-based asset managers LGT Group and Swiss alternatives firm Partners Group. It listed on the Swiss exchange in 1997 and has commitments to more than 150 funds including TPG Partners V, Apollo Overseas Partners VI and OCM European Principal Opportunities Fund.

Last week KKR, ranked fourth in the PEI 50, revealed that it would delay until next year its proposed de-listing and acquisition of KKR Private Equity Investors and subsequent listing of the combined entities on the New York Stock Exchange. However, the firm said the delay was “process-driven” rather than market-related.