E560m first close for Clessidra

Clessidra Capital, the new Italian leveraged buyout firm, has achieved a first closing of E560m for its debut fund, Clessidra Capital Partners.

A first closing of E560m has been achieved by Clessidra Capital Partners, the new fund being raised by Italian private equity newcomer Clessidra Capital.

Clessidra is headed by Claudio Sposito, the former chief executive of Fininvest, the holding company of Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. The firm is targeting a final close of E1bn in the second quarter of 2004.

The fundraising has so far targeted mainly Italian financial institutions and has attracted commitments from the likes of Telecom Italia, Assicurazioni Generali, UniCredito Italiano, Mediobanca and Capitalia.

It has also begun pitching to international investors, and has already enlisted ABN AMRO and CGU. This latest stage of the fundraising is being handled by placement agent CSFB Private Fund Group. A source close to the fundraising said one of its most attractive aspects was the access it gave international investors to deals previously available only to Italian corporates and family groups.

According to a report in the Daily Deal, the fund is currently targeting the acquisition of a 50 per cent stake in Terna, the electricity transmission network owned by state-controlled utility Enel. Privatisations are expected to be a major source of deals for Clessidra.

Question marks have been raised about the ability of the Italian market to support such a large new fund, despite the groundbreaking E5.65bn buyout of directories business Seat Pagine Gialle earlier in the year. “Italy is a big M&A market but not many of the deals get seen by private equity firms,” said the source. “To buy into Clessidra, you must believe that it will get a look at a large slice of the transactions currently being done only by corporates and family groups.”