Martin Currie hopes to resurrect fund of funds

Hamish Mair takes reigns from Paul Murray and seeks to get the firm's fundraising back on track.

Martin Currie, the Edinburgh-based fund manager, has revealed plans to re-launch fundraising for its second private equity fund of funds vehicle, which was postponed earlier this year after falling significantly short of its target. 

The fund was pulled having raised only around £20 million (€29.6 million; $35.6 million) of a £150 million target. In the aftermath, Paul Murray, who was hired from DB Capital Partners in February 2003 to head up private equity and oversee the fundraising, departed the company. He was replaced at the helm by existing team member Hamish Mair.

In an interview, Mair spoke of plans to revive the fundraising later this year. He said: “The fundraising has been put on the shelf because we did not reach the minimum total we needed to make it viable, but it has not been stopped. We shall be considering re-launching but no final decision has been taken yet. It will be based on market conditions and they are probably a bit better now than they were pre-Christmas.”

Mair also said he was hoping to add one more full-time member of staff to the current private equity team of three. Mair, who worked for merchant bank Robert Fleming in London before moving to Martin Currie’s Far East team in 1990, works alongside assistant director Neil Sneddon, who was previously at Arthur Andersen, and analyst Anna Vandor.    

The fund was earmarked as the successor to the €170 million Martin Currie Capital Return Trust fund of funds, which was set up in March 1999 and made commitments to a number of European and US-based fund managers including Candover and Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst.

A spokesperson at Martin Currie said Murray had left “to pursue other opportunities.” Prior to joining Martin Currie, he was a founding partner at DB Capital Partners, where he led the firm’s investment in the €4 billion leveraged buyout of Jefferson Smurfit alongside Madison Dearborn. Prior to DB, he had spent 11 years at 3i, including a spell as head of its Scottish buyout business.      

Asked about Martin Currie’s prospects of reviving its fundraising, one London-based limited partner said: “Mair’s a good quality individual but the fundraising environment looks far from easy for the foreseeable future: all the available capital is being gobbled up by the larger players like Pantheon and Harbourvest. Having said that, things can’t be any worse than last year, when raising money was like pushing water uphill.”