IRRfc scores first part exit post-UBS

The private equity manager has realised a partial exit from house builder Ward Homes Group.

IRRfc, which manages the funds of Phildrew Ventures on behalf of UBS, has made a partial exit from Ward Homes, a portfolio company of Phildrew Ventures' 5th Fund.

The fund will retain a 20 per cent stake in the firm but says that it has realised its original investment in the regional house builder via this £67m secondary buyout involving management and Royal Bank of Scotland’s Debt Ventures. RBS is contributing £60m in senior debt and mezzanine to the transaction and will receive a 20 per cent stake in the company.

The fund had originally backed the buyout of Ward in July 2000 and the partial exit now is the first realisation since the team behind IRRfc left UBS Capital earlier this year. The departure of these former Phildrew Ventures personnel came after owner Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) signalled its withdrawal from private equity investing and an attempted management buyout of UBS Capital was also blocked. IRRfc describes itself as 'an old business going through a rebirth and transformation.'

At a time when more and more private equity portfolio owners are fretting about the performance of their assets, IRRfc is looking to help any such institution with an 'under-managed' private equity portfolio make their assets work harder. The aim is to exert IRRfc's own energies, and the skills of a network of relevant professionals also, on portfolio companies in readiness for a hopefully value-maximising exit.

Target clients therefore include banks, insurance companies, corporate venture firms, secondary investment funds and venture capital firms with tail-end assets. The firm no longer invests in new transactions but says that it has access to 'sufficient capital for follow-on investments in portfolio companies.'

The founders of IRRfc have a long track record in UK mid-market investing having all worked for many years at Phildrew Ventures, prior to and during this firm's acquisition by UBS. The five founding partners are: Ian Hawkins, Robert Jenkins, Ruth Storm, Frank Neale and Chris Tennant