Hawkesbridge splits in two

Australian private equity and real estate firm Hawkesbridge Capital has been split into two businesses, with Bridgeport Capital acquiring the private equity unit.

Fledgling Australian private equity firm Bridgeport Capital – founded last year by two former Hawkesbridge Capital executives – has returned to acquire the private equity unit of their former shop.

Hawkesbridge Capital started out as a private equity fund manager in 2002 and subsequently expanded into real estate. The firm has not raised a fresh private equity fund since 2007, when it closed its third fund on A$83 million ($64 million; €56 million).

Two Hawkesbridge execs on the private equity team – David Plumridge and Brendan Sulway – split from the group last year to establish Bridgeport Capital, a mid-market deal-by-deal investor.

Bridgeport has now returned to acquire the private equity unit of Hawkesbridge as part of a plan to allow the private equity and property teams of Hawkesbridge Capital to effect a “clean split” and focus on their distinct businesses, Bridgeport’s Plumridge told Private Equity International.

LPs in the firm’s private equity funds included include Vision Super, WA Local Government Superannuation Plan, and the Meat Industry Employees’ Superannuation Fund.

The value of the deal to buy the unit has not been disclosed, but sees Bridgeport take ownership of Hawkesbridge Private Equity, which manages more than A$200 million of private equity funds on behalf of Australian superannuation funds and high net worth investors.

The funds managed by Hawkesbridge include 2002-vintage Hawkesbridge Enterprise Trust 1, which raised $25 million; 2005-vintage Hawkesbridge Enterprise Trust 2, which raised $85 million; and its 2007 vehicle Hawkesbridge Private Equity Fund 3. Of the three funds, only the first fund has been liquidated, according to PEI data.

The firm’s current private equity portfolio includes beverage company Australian Beverage Holdings, hospitality business Trippas White Group, and bulk containers importer and distributor Bulk Handling Australia Group.

Bridgeport has raised money on a deal-by-deal basis to do two direct deals since the split last year. It acquired after-hours in home doctor services Dial a Doctor alongside Boab Capital Group in July, as well as high voltage electricity specialist Underground Cable Systems in a deal worth approximately A$100 million in in September last year.

The firm is actively hunting opportunities in Australia in the A$5 million to A$30 million EBITDA range. A more traditional private equity fund is also expected in two to three years, Plumridge said.