Graphite Enterprise Trust leads fund VI backing

UK-listed Graphite Enterprise Trust has committed £50m to Graphite Capital's sixth mid-market fund, which is set to close on £375m.

Graphite Capital, the UK-based mid-market private equity firm that spun out of asset management group Foreign & Colonial (F&C), has announced the final close of its first fund since gaining independence in 2001.


Rod Richards, Managing Partner at Graphite, said he was very pleased with the support from both new and existing investors, 'particularly as we were raising the fund in such uncertain times. There appears to be very strong investor interest in the mid-market at present and our fund was well positioned to take advantage of this.”


“We think that in a few years' time this will be seen to have been an attractive period for investing,” said partner Stephen Cavell, “Historically many of our best investments have been made in difficult times.  We have been very active in the last nine months and the new fund gives us a substantial war chest to continue investing over the next three to four years.'


The fund has closed 25 per cent above the original target of £300m, ranking it among Europe’s top fundraisings completed in 2003. Graphite Enterprise Trust, a quoted evergreen fund, has made a commitment of £50m to the fund.


John Sclater, chairman of the Graphite Enterprise Trust, confirmed the £50m investment yesterday. “There was high demand for the fund from institutional investors, exceeding its maximum target size of £375m. As with Graphite Capital’s previous funds, Graphite Capital Partners VI will focus on small and medium-sized UK management buyouts, buy-ins and development capital investments.”


The closing comes as several private equity firms, slowed by LP uncertainty about new investments, are struggling to achieve their fundraising targets.


Graphite on the other hand joins the ranks of general partners that have found the market more welcoming. Charterhouse Development Capital is approaching a final close for a new E3bn fund, having held a second close on E2bn at the turn of the year. UK mezzanine firm Indigo Capital announced in January that it had exceeded its E400m target for its fourth fund, raising E475m. Englefield Capital, set up last year by former Warburg Pincus veteran Dominic Shorthouse, closed its debut fund on E660m, largely thanks to a E495m commitment from Bregal, the Swiss-based vehicle controlled by the Brenninkmeijer family.


The firm’s sixth private equity fund was closed in August 1999 at £183m and is now in its third year of investment. Helix Limited acted as placement agent for the fund.


The firm has made a series of investments over the past six months. In January, it acquired the Jane Norman fashion retail chain for £70m and Napier Industries, a maker of Christmas crackers, for £25m in February. Last December, the firm paid £23m in for Range Cooker Company, a distributor of household stoves.