Exclusive: CHAMP readies Fund IV after team reshuffle

The Australian mid-market firm will target close to A$1.5bn for its latest offering

CHAMP Private Equity, an Australia-focused mid-market fund, is gearing up to launch its fourth private equity vehicle, sources with direct knowledge of the matter revealed to Private Equity International.

The fund, which will be launched around the firm’s AGM in March, is targeting A$1.5 billion ($1.17 billion; €1.04 billion), a similar number to its A$1.48 billion predecessor, but is not limited to raising that amount and could collect commitments upwards of that figure. 

The launch of Fund IV comes shortly after CHAMP realigned its management team last year.

CHAMP was founded in 2000 by founding partner Joe Skrzynski and executive chairman Bill Ferris, who have in recent years been winding down their day-to-day management responsibilities, appointing managing director John Haddock as the new chief executive officer. 

Ferris, along with co-founder Skrzynski, had built the firm into one of the most successful GPs in the country and also became the first Australian manager to open its investment strategy to emerging Asia.

In February 2014, the firm solidified its succession plan with Haddock’s appointment, him taking charge of the day-to-day management activities and driving the investment programme. The team now reports directly to Haddock, who is still involved in investment decisions, although the founders continue to help lead the firm. 

Having worked on both the equity and debt side in investment banking, Haddock joined CHAMP in 2002. He has led several investments, including United Malt Holdings and Accolade Wines – two of CHAMP’s most successful cross-border investments, according to the firm.

“What we’ve been looking for and see in John is a sense of proprietorship. He loves the private equity business, he’s got a strong commitment to the CHAMP culture and a sense of proprietorship about the firm. It is really important to me, Joe and the board that CHAMP goes on as a successful franchise,” Ferris told PEI earlier.

The firm declined to comment on fundraising, but had said earlier that the founding partners would continue to be active in all the investment decisions of any upcoming vehicle.

For now, CHAMP continues to actively invest from its third private equity vehicle, a 2009 vintage.

In October last year, the firm agreed to carve out two business units of Australian publicly-listed company Nuplex in a deal worth A$127.5 million as carve-out opportunities in the country continue to increase.

CHAMP bought its agency and distribution business, Nuplex Specialties, and its plastic additives business, Nuplex Masterbatch, through a newly-created holding company Axieo, as the units were increasingly becoming non-core.