Coller takes DFJ Esprit fund private

Coller Capital's delisting of DFJ Esprit's publicly-quoted venture fund is yet another measure of its founder Jeremy Coller's enthusiasm for under-valued venture assets.

Coller Capital, a global investor in private equity secondaries, has taken private London-listed Prelude Trust, managed by DFJ Esprit, a European technology venture capital firm, for $50 million (€32.2 million).

The deal allows DFJ Esprit, which inherited the quoted investment trust in its merger with UK technology investor Prelude, to focus on managing its funds in private, away from the public spotlight where it had traded at a deep discount to net asset value, a source said.

Following the 11 June acquisition by Coller International Partners V the fund will inject up to $50 million in fresh capital to support the portfolio through a new fund DFJ Esprit II.

Coller Capital has a strong track record in backing venture capital and partnering with companies such as Shell, BT and QinetiQ to launch venture funds.

The additional funding will support the growth of a number of European companies, which include: ZBD, a manufacturer of very low power displays, which has just signed up Tesco for a trial of its electronic pricing labels; Displaylink, the world leader in USB graphics technology, which recently launched a series of new products; and Oxford Immunotec, a clinical diagnostics company with a revolutionary blood test for tuberculosis.
 
The new fund sits alongside DFJ Esprit’s current $500m fund, DFJ Esprit I, which was acquired from Cazenove in 2006.
 
Simon Cook, chief executive of DFJ Esprit, said: “Our focus remains on supporting the portfolio and helping them to grow into world leaders. We are looking forward to working with such a well-respected, top-tier investor to continue to turn outstanding innovation into global success stories.”