UK fund manager Martin Currie has re-enforced its growing commitment to alternative assets with plans for a new fund of funds and a senior appointment at the firm’s private equity division.
The Edinburgh-based firm has hired Paul Murray, a founding partner at Deutsche Bank Capital Partners since 2000, as managing director of its enlarged private equity team.
Before joining Deutsche Bank, Murray spent eleven years at 3i, most recently running the firm’s Scottish LBO business. His most recent deal at Deutsche Bank was leading their investment in the E4bn LBO of Jefferson Smurfit alongside Madison Dearborn.
The appointment forms part of Martin Currie’s plans to expand its private equity division over the next six months. As a first stage, Martin Currie is marketing a E300m European mid-market fund of funds vehicle. The fund, which will also have direct co-investment capacity, is expected to hold a first closing in the summer. “We are looking to raise around E150m at the first close,” said Ross Leckie, a director at Martin Currie. “We have already started marketing the fund in the US where the reception has been very positive.”
15 per cent of the fund’s capital will be set aside for direct investments throughout Europe, although focusing on the mid-market. “We are a boutique business, so the top end of the market is not attractive to us,” adds Leckie. “The European mid-market is still underdeveloped compared with the US, and in particular we will be aiming to invest in German mittelstand companies, which will increasingly require support from private equity sector as the economy deteriorates.”
The fund will target investments of between E50m and E500m and will consider all industries. According to Leckie, “In this market it is a mistake to dismiss any sector out of hand. That is why have maintained wide parameters for our investment range.”
The fund will be the follow-up to the E170m Martin Currie Capital Return Trust, which is a closed end fund of funds invested in European and US firms, including Candover and Hicks, Muse.