Pantheon fund sees improvement

Pantheon International Participations (PIP), the quoted investment trust managed by private equity fund-of-funds operation Pantheon Ventures, has recovered in 2002/03 from the previous year’s losses.

Pantheon Ventures’ quoted investment trust PIP has delivered a boost to shareholders with an improved performance in its latest set of preliminary annual results. 

The trust made a gain on investments of £6.8m in the year to June 2003, compared with a loss of almost £39m in the 12 months to June 2002. This helped it to a pre-tax profit of £1.8m compared with a £32m loss previously. The net asset value per share increased 1 per cent to 546.8p per share compared with a fall on the FTSE All-Share Total Return Index of 9.7 per cent.   

PIP, which is quoted on the London Stock Exchange, specialises in unquoted investments, acquires existing unquoted portfolios and participates directly in private placements. Its assets are spread around the US, the UK and continental Europe and some of its major investments include Pantheon USA Fund II, Pantheon Europe Funds and Third Causeway Development Capital Fund.

Andrew Lebus, a Pantheon Ventures partner and a member of the PIP investment team, says the firm has retained an edge despite a more crowded market. “The market for secondaries has become more efficient, but that is a positive thing in the sense that it brings more vendors out of the woodwork,” he said. “We focus on investments that we can bring a proprietary angle to. There’s no doubt that the market is more populated than it was and that means you have to have a better insight than everyone else – which we will have in some cases.”

During the reporting period, PIP committed a total of £119.1m to new investments, £88.6m of which (including unfunded commitments) was for the purchase of 58 secondary interests. Almost 59 per cent (£69.7m) of PIP’s new commitments during the year have already been called. The firm’s primary investments through its ‘new funds programme’ resulted in the commitment of £30.5m to ten funds focused on the US and Western Europe.

Lebus said some of the transactions looked at by the firm had been ‘a little different’, including spinouts of corporate venture portfolios. Although PIP’s focus was primarily on mature assets, he said it was prepared to buy portfolios with a mixture of assets because the younger ones could be absorbed by other Pantheon funds.

PIP chairman Lionel Stopford Sackville said he would be retiring from the board at the next AGM to be replaced by Ewen Macpherson, who has been a member of the board since 1998.