Exponent posts £260m first closing

Exponent Private Equity, the UK-based private equity firm launched by four former 3i executives, has achieved a first closing of £260 million for its debut fund ahead of a planned £400 million final close.

Exponent Private Equity has achieved a first closing of its debut fund on £260 million (€388 million; $476 million) less than four months after its official launch in early March. The original target for the fund was between £300 million and £350 million, but according to a source close to the fundraising, this has been increased to £400 million (and capped at that level). The source added that a final closing was anticipated in mid-September, but may happen as soon as the end of this month.

The Exponent team comprises Tom Sweet-Escott, Richard Campin, Chris Graham and Hugh Richards, who worked together on buyout investments at 3i. Sweet-Escott led 3i’s highly successful investment in budget airline Go, while Campin headed the firm’s French activities, Graham led the media team and Richards oversaw relationships with industrialists.

Exponent will target upper mid-market investments in companies with an enterprise value of between £50 million and £250 million. The fund will focus primarily on UK deals, but may set aside as much as 20 percent of the total amount raised for investment in continental Europe on an opportunistic basis.

The fund’s investors to date have not been named, but are understood to include insurance companies, pension funds and other institutions. Explaining their attraction to the fund, the source said: “They liked what they saw as a rare alignment of experience and motivation. The team is very experienced and had led some great deals, but by industry standards had not attained the personal capital commensurate with their performance – meaning they are still highly motivated.”

Exponent is the latest firm to find the UK mid-market fertile fundraising territory. The likes of Graphite Capital, Gresham Trust and Sagitta Private Equity have all successfully raised UK mid-market funds in recent times.

Helix Associates is acting as placement agent to the Exponent fundraising.