Esprit completes two deals in a week

Esprit Capital Partners, formed from the merger of Prelude Ventures and Cazenove Private Equity, has sold its stake in security technology company BlackSpider Technologies and invested in a second round financing of network graphics semiconductor business Newnham.

Esprit Capital Partners, the venture capital investor created from the merger of Prelude Ventures and Cazenove Private Equity earlier this year, has led a $13.25 million (€10.5 million) investment in Newnham, a network graphics semiconductor company.

Atlas Venture, Benchmark Capital and several unnamed private investors also participated in the Series B financing. Esprit Capital Partners contributed $3.5 million to the Series B round and, as a result, holds a 13.5 percent shareholding in the business.

As part of the transaction, Alan Duncan, partner at Esprit Capital Partners, and David Mooring, former president at US chip technology business Rambus and a Newnham investor, have joined the company’s board as directors.

Founded in 2003 and based in Palo Alto, California, with main R&D and product development in Cambridge, UK, Newnham develops flexible connections between computers and displays. Altas Venture and Benchmark Capital invested $8 million in the company’s Series A financing in July 2005.

Newnham is the second transactions for Esprit Capital Partners in the past week. Last Thursday, the firm sold BlackSpider Technologies, a managed security service provider, to SurfControl, an internet security business, for an undisclosed sum.

Esprit Capital Partners was formed from the spin-out of Cazenove Private Equity, the private equity arm of Cazenove Capital Management, and subsequent merger with Prelude Ventures in March of this year. The new business is headed by Simon Cook, formerly investment director at Cazenove Private Equity.