European venture pair proves fundraising is still possible

After a generally poor year for European venture capital firms, two groups have kicked off 2012 with positive fundraising news.

Scottish Equity Partners (SEP) has closed its latest growth equity and venture capital fund on £200 million, whilst French peer Partech International is pushing towards the finish line for its latest vehicle having held a first close just before Christmas with €100 million raised.

SEP said existing investors accounted for 80 percent of the £200 million it raised. Half the capital came from UK-based limited partners, with the rest committed by European and North American investors.

The fund, SEP IV, is 30 percent bigger than its previous vehicle it said. The fundraising close follows a strong year for the firm, which booked several significant exits. These included the sale of cancer therapeutics business Biovex to US pharmaceuticals group Amgen for $1 billion, and a 12 times return multiple on its investment in Zeus Technology following its sale to Riverbed for $140m.

SEP managing partner Calum Paterson said: “There is a growing recognition of the positive role that experienced and long term equity investors can play in building successful businesses, especially at a time when for many companies bank funding continues to be conspicuous by its absence.  This fund will allow us to continue to support the growth of innovative and ambitious UK companies. We have already identified a number of interesting investment opportunities for 2012, but we will maintain a disciplined approach and ensure that we continue to select and value our investments carefully.”

Across the Channel, French venture capital firm Partech is nearing its target for its latest fund, having held a first close on €100 million for Partech International VI before Christmas according to a statement.

Partech focuses on investments in the internet services and information technology sectors in Europe and the US’ Silicon Valley.

Haydon Hill Advisors is working as placement agent for Partech’s fundraising. Investors who have committed to the fund so far include CDC Entreprises, Caisse Nationale de Prévoyance, CM-CIC Idinvest, and the European Investment Fund, the firm said.

The amount raised by the first close was ahead of the firm’s expectations, according to a source close to the process. Philippe Collombel, a partner at the firm, described it as an “ambitious” first close, adding, “It is now very likely we will exceed our original target”.

“A €120-140 million fund will be the ideal size in order to implement our focused international strategy,” he added.

The firm also promoted Andreas Schlenker to partner. He joins existing partners Collombel, Jean-Marc Patouillaud and Nicolas El Baze.