Opera set for second fund

Two years after raising its debut fund, the closed-end investment unit of Italian luxury goods group Bulgari is seeking to raise E250m for Italian mid-market opportunities.

Opera Fund, the private equity unit of Italian luxury goods manufacturer Bulgari, has confirmed that it is planning to raise a second fund targeting opportunities in the Italian luxury goods and services sector.


Opera, headed by former Morgan Grenfell Private Equity director Renato Preti, is planning to raise E250m for the Opera II fund, which it hopes to have achieved by the beginning of 2004. As with Fund I, Bulgari, which controls 50 per cent of the management company, will be a cornerstone investor in the fund.


Opera I was set up in 2000 by Preti and Bulgari with the intention of raising E150m. The fund eventually closed on E225m, with Bulgari committing twelve per cent of the fund’s capital. Since April 2001, the company has invested around 61 per cent of the fund in six transactions, most recently acquiring a 55 per cent stake in B&B Italia, an Italian furniture designer. Other investments included garden furniture group Unopiu, watchmaker Sector and luxury shoe and accessories group Bruno Maglia.


“We managed to create a very interesting portfolio of companies with the first fund, which are in the process of being restructured and developed,” said Francesco Trapani, CEO of the Bulgari Group. Opera II will focus on interior design and furnishing, fashion and leather goods, cosmetics, tourism, quality food and wine, as well as retail. The fund, which also targets turnaround opportunities, plans to make around ten investments. 


Preti said he believes the next few years will present improved opportunities for private equity players in the Italian market as valuations continue to fall. “More specifically, there will be interesting opportunities for investing in the Italian lifestyle sectors given the current consolidation process and the need for medium sized Italian companies to reaffirm themselves in the international market.”


News of the second Opera fund follows the announcement last week that fellow mid-market firm B&S had comfortably exceeded its E500m target for its fourth fund at the second closing, only seven months after the fund was launched. B&S, which plans to cap its latest fund at E550m, has so far made only one exit from its predecessor fund. Opera has yet to achieve an exit on Opera I.