Kelso targets £75m for UK turnarounds

The London-based turnaround specialist is for the first time trying to attract institutional investors as it looks to capitalise on the best opportunities it has seen 'in the last four years'.

Kelso Place is seeking £75 million (€88 million; $124 million) for its fourth fund, which will target turnaround opportunities in the UK.

It is aiming for a first and final close “after the summer, and by the end of October at the latest”, Kelso managing partner Sion Kearsey told PEO.

He added that the firm hit the fundraising trail last week and is aiming to attract around 20 total investors, which are likely to include European family offices and funds of funds.  The firm is being advised on the fundraising by Paris-based placement agent Triago.

The keys to businesses are being thrown to the banks because of the downturn in trading, but they're not resourced to keep these assets on their books.

Sion Kearsey

Kelso Place, which was formed in 2000, has raised three prior funds from which it has made 11 investments. The firm did not disclose how much it had raised for these funds, which were backed by what Kearsey describes as a “network of friends”. The latest fund is the first to try and attract institutional investors.

Explaining the move to diversify the investor base, Kearsey says: “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.”

Kearsey added that, in his view, the fund was being raised at an opportune time due to the deleveraging and restructuring taking place across the UK economy. “We’re seeing more deal flow than in the last two, three or four years. The keys to businesses are being thrown to the banks because of the downturn in trading, but they’re not resourced to keep these assets on their books.”     

Kelso Place typically invests between £1 million and £15 million in businesses with annual revenues of between £10 million and £100 million. The firm focuses primarily on financial restructuring, operational turnarounds, corporate orphans and purchasing businesses from distressed vendors.