Kelso raises £100m for turnarounds

The turnaround-focused UK firm has attracted institutional capital for the first time and beaten its £75m fund target.

London-based private equity firm Kelso Place Asset Management has closed its fourth fund on £100 million (€110 million; $162 million), beating its target of £75 million.

Fund IV is Kelso’s first to target institutional money and has attracted commitments from limited partners in both Europe and North America, the firm said in a statement.

The firm began marketing the fund in the summer, using Paris-headquartered Triago as a placement agent.

Fund IV will follow the same strategy as its predecessors, targeting turnarounds and special situations opportunities. It will seek to buy controlling stakes in lower mid-market UK businesses with annual revenues of between £10 million and £100 million. The firm did not disclose how much it raised for its first three vehicles.

Headed by managing partners Sion Kearsey and Philip Weston, Kelso Place’s eight-strong investment team has been investing capital on behalf of a what the firm has described as a “network of friends” since 2001.

“This is the first time that we have sought fund commitments from the wider market and we have been delighted with the response that we have received,” said Kearsey in a statement, “Despite tough conditions for fundraising, we have exceeded our original target.”

When the firm began marketing in June, Kearsey explained the move to diversify the investor base: “We sat down and decided we were committed to the space for at least the next 10 to 15 years. Therefore, it made sense to find partners who would go forward with us. A friends network is probably not entirely reliable for the long term.”

Kelso recently returned around £10 million to investors from the partial exit of portfolio company i2S Group. The exit, which saw one division of i2S sold to a US trade buyer, brought to 4x the return generated on its original investment.