Mayfair defies Brexit to close debut fund at £400m

The UK-focused firm extended the fundraising by six months to take account of investor uncertainty around the UK’s EU referendum.

Mayfair Equity Partners, the UK-headquartered buyout and growth capital firm launched by LDC’s former London office head, Daniel Sasaki, has closed its debut fund on £400 million (€463 million; $520 million), according to a statement from the firm.

The fund, which was oversubscribed, launched in late 2014 with a target of £350 million. It held a first close in April 2015 at around £200 million.

Fundraising reached the £300 million mark in early 2016, at which point the date for the UK referendum on EU membership was announced and a number of investors retreated to a ‘wait-and-see’ position, said a source with knowledge of the process. A six-month extension on the final close was agreed with investors to wait for the referendum outcome.

Mayfair Equity Partners Fund I’s investor base includes investors from the UK, Europe, the Middle East and North America, among them pension funds, asset managers, funds of funds, sovereign wealth funds, family offices and other institutional investors, the firm said.

Investors in the fund include the Fire and Police Pension Association of Colorado, which committed $14 million, the European Investment Fund, which committed €61.6 million, the Universities Superannuation Scheme, Macquarie Group, and Adams Street Partners, according to PEI data.

It is understood that Morgan Stanley Investment Management and Adveq are also investors in the fund.

The vehicle also has access to “significant co-investment capital”, the firm said.

It is understood that the Mayfair team made a GP commitment “in line with market standards”, which would typically be around 2 percent of the fund size.

Triago acted as placement agent for the fundraising, and Macfarlanes acted as legal counsel.

Mayfair focuses on investments where its networks are strongest, within the UK and Republic of Ireland as well as “further afield”, according to its website.

The vehicle, which is looking to back eight to 12 businesses in the technology and consumer sectors, has already made four investments: domestic energy supplier Ovo Energy; sport fishing equipment provider Fox International; Hotels & More, a B2B partner for travel businesses selling inbound tours to the United Kingdom and Ireland; and Japanese casual dining chain YO! Sushi.

LDC hired Sasaki as a director in 2008 to focus on TMT investments in London, and in 2011 he took over the running of the London office. He left the firm in 2014 after a reported failed secret takeover attempt of LDC’s London business by Goldman Sachs.

“(His) success generated external interest in the London part of the business which in turn led to [his] departure,” a spokesperson for Sasaki told Sky News at the time. “Daniel Sasaki… behaved with utmost propriety at all times and there is no dispute regarding his departure.”

At the end of Q3 $2.37 billion had been raised by UK-focused private equity funds, according to PEI data, significantly lower than the $3.86 billion raised in the same period last year. The third quarter was particularly quiet, with just $600 million raised by one fund, CBPE IX, which closed on its £459 million hard-cap.