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Lee and Arnault to launch $2bn fund

The new fund will invest in diverse sectors including finance and consumer products.

In a move that suggests that local European knowledge is being backed by US investment firepower, Thomas H Lee, the US investment group, and French investor Bernard Arnault are getting together to launch a European buy-out fund which is expected to raise up to $2bn.

Groupe Arnault, Arbault's private investment vehicle, is expected to announce the venture, TH Lee Groupe Arnault, today. Putnam Investments, which has a close relationship with TH Lee, will also invest in the new vehicle. The fund will have offices in London and Paris and will make investments in various sectors including finance and consumer products across Europe, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Thomas Lee recently closed a $6.1bn fund – the largest private equity fund raised to date. Reports suggest that under the terms of the deal, the joint venture will become the exclusive vehicle for the US group's private equity deals in Europe.

Arnault, chairman of France’s LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, has a mixed record as an internet venture capitalist. He recently sold a stake in Europ@web after cancelling plans to take it to IPO. He was also an investor in the ill-fated online fashion retailer boo.com.