Native American fund makes debut deal

A $25m private equity fund formed by a group of Native American tribes, including the Colusa Indian Tribe and the Rincon Indian Tribe, has made its debut investment into a Californian card manufacturer.

San Diego-based First Nations Capital Partners I (FNCP), billed as the first inter-tribally controlled private equity fund in the US, has made its debut investment with the management buyout of plastic card maker Able Card Corporation, in an undisclosed transaction.

The California-based firm manufactures approximately 80 million plastic gift cards, membership cards and identification cards each year. The buyout will keep Able Card at its 44,000 square-foot premises and will preserve the jobs of more than 50 Latino and Asian employees, the firm said in a statement.

The $25 million FNCP fund was formed in February 2008 with lead investment from the Colusa Indian Tribe, a governing body of the Cachil Dehe Band of Wintun Indians; the Rincon Indian Tribe, which owns Harrah’s Resort and Casino in Valley Center, California – the majority of the Harrah’s franchise being owned by private equity firms Apollo Management and Texas Pacific Group; and the Wells Fargo Community Development Corporation, which invests in affordable housing and economic development. The three lead investors committed $5 million each and other unnamed Indian tribes committed between $1 million to $5 million each.

To the best of my knowledge this is the first commingled, multi-tribe private equity fund.

Bob Taylor

“To the best of my knowledge this is the first commingled, multi-tribe private equity fund,” Wells Fargo CDC president Bob Taylor, said in a press statement last year.

Commenting on the deal Bonnie Pullen, chief financial officer of the Colusa Indian Tribe, said the fund would continue to look for similar acquisitions where it can create synergy with tribal plans to diversify and invest in quality companies.