Norway’s Ferd completes €151m first closing

Ferd Equity Partners, the private equity arm of private Norwegian industrial group Ferd AS, has announced the first closing of its debut fund on NOK1.25bn (€151m).

Ferd Equity Partners, which was established in 2003, has closed its first fund – the Ferd Private Equity Fund – on NOK1.25 billion (€151 million; $186 million).

A statement said Ferd AS was the largest investor in the fund, though the amount committed was not disclosed. It added that the fund attracted 15 other Norwegian institutional investors including Orkla, an industrial conglomerate, and Storebrand Livsforsikring, the life insurance arm of financial services group Storebrand. Institutions accounted for around three-quarters of the total committed, with family offices accounting for one-quarter.     

A spokesman for the firm said it had decided to extend the fundraising internationally as a result of potential interest from “several foreign investors”. However, in order to retain the investment focus of the fund, it will be capped at NOK1.5 billion.  

Ferd Equity Partners is the exclusive adviser to the fund, which will be managed by managing partner Gert Munthe and fellow partners Tore Rynning-Nielsen and Morten Blix. Ferd Equity Partners is 60 percent owned by its six employees and 40 percent by Ferd AS.

The fund will target “friendly acquisitions of established Norwegian and Nordic companies with positive cash flow”. It will seek stakes of 50 percent or more, and preferably more than 90 percent, and will make equity investments of between NOK100 million and NOK400 million.

“There is a clear need for such a player in the Norwegian capital market,” said Munthe. “There is a significant number of venture groups in Norway, focusing on transactions below NOK100 million. But a successful IPO with sufficient liquidity and interest from the larger institutions requires a stock market value of at least NOK1 billion. Companies investing in the segment between NOK100 million and NOK1 billion are therefore too often sold to foreign players.”

Ferd made its first two investments from the fund in January 2004 when it acquired Collett Pharma from Nycomed Pharma for an undisclosed sum and Pronova Biocare from Norsk Hydro for NOK165 million. Ferd said it beat off competition in both cases from foreign private equity funds.

Founded in the late 1700s as a tobacco producer and seller, Ferd AS is now an investor in industrial companies and alternative assets. As well as private equity, the firm also has venture capital and real estate investment vehicles.   

The Norwegian private equity market is relatively undeveloped compared to its Nordic neighbours, but saw two deals completed last week. Stockholm-based Industri Kapital acquired retail businesses Terje Hoili, Europris and Max 20 for around €300 million, while Finland’s CapMan bought specialist software provider Locus for an undisclosed sum.