CVC, Citicorp, JH Whitney back e-incubator

antfactory gets backing worth $350m (E389m).

The Internet business accelerator, which launched in October last year, revealed today it had made strategic alliances with three leading private equity firms, including European buy-out specialist CVC Capital Partners.

JH Whitney, the US firm which led the previous round of financing, and Citicorp Venture Capital, Citigroup's private equity arm, make up the high-powered trio supporting antfactory.

The e-incubator has 17 existing investments spread across the United Kingdom (12), Spain (2), India (2) and France (1). Its activities range from hatching its own start-ups to developing the Internet and e-commerce capabilities of established, offline companies.

antfactory is expected to use some of its new funding to helping US-based companies associated with JH Whitney and Citicorp establish Internet operations in Europe.

For CVC, the deal gives its portfolio companies access to antfactory's business development expertise at a time when many are grappling with the opportunities and threats thrown up by the Internet. “We expect our current portfolio of investee companies to respond very positively to the expertise and capital brought by antfactory,” said its chairman, Michael Smith, in a statement.

antfactory is also considering a possible flotation later this year.