TRIAGO-X

Triago-X first opened for business on April 1, but that triviality shouldn't fool anyone: this fledgling market place for secondary partnership interests is definitely not meant as a joke.

Neither is it intended to be simply an online trading platform, even though www.triago-x.com does play an important role in the project.

Introduced to the public in November, Triago-X is a “club” with about 50 members at this stage, all of whom are prospective acquirers of secondary private equity fund positions. The members can visit the website to view confidential information about partnership interests for sale. The assets showcased on the site are owned by investors whom Triago advises. Every time Triago helps them close a deal, these clients will pay the firm a success fee.

Triago-X is the brainchild of Antoine Dréan and his partners at Triago, the Paris-based private equity fund placement specialist. In discussions about the new venture, Dréan is quick to address a couple of potential misconceptions.

Number one is the already mentioned point that Triago isn't just acting as Web master here. “We don't believe that you can facilitate secondary trading through the Web,” Dréan says. “The website is a place where buyers can see deal flow, but the human element is still crucial in secondaries.” That is why the firm wants to hire between six and eight additional professionals dedicated to Triago-X who will work with clients through the entire sales process.

Number two is that although buyers who join the club pay a membership fee, the firm's upside comes from working with the vendors. “We're sell side only, that's the rule,” says Dréan, insisting that the firm won't ever take finders fees from buyers.

Triago has been representing secondary sellers since 1993 and has periodically worked on similar assignments ever since. Armed with that experience as well as the conviction that the market has matured dramatically in recent years, the firm is confident that there is now enough trading activity in secondaries to justify a more formal approach to providing sell side advice.

Dréan says Triago-X is generating advisory fee income already. Significant growth is also projected: while the firm is busy looking for new vendor mandates, another 250 buyers are expected to join the club over the coming months.

Triago is not the only primary fund placement specialist with a dedicated secondary advisory business. Campbell Lutyens, Probitas Partners and UBS Private Equity Funds Group are among those who will be watching the project with keen eyes.

ALPHA ASSOCIATES LAUNCHES €300M FoF
The private equity firm that span out of Swiss Life Private Equity Partners on April 1 2004 has launched a €300 million ($391 million) fund of funds vehicle dedicated to Central & Eastern Europe. The new vehicle is Alpha's second fund of funds investing in the region. The firm also manages 5E Holding, a structure that was launched in 1998. As at September 30 2004, 5E had a total capitalisation including investments made and unfunded commitments of CHF148 million (€98 million; $127 million). The firm is run by Peter Derendinger, who led the spin-out from Swiss insurer Swiss Life.

BPEP ESPAÑA FINDS €97M
The Spanish operation of Baring Private Equity Partners has announced a final closing of its second fund on €97m ($127 million), the first new fundraising effort within Baring Private Equity International since the group finalised its MBO from parent company ING Group in August. Baring Iberia II will provide expansion capital to small and mediumsized private companies in Spain and Portugal. Investors in the fund, which is approximately 15 percent invested, included four of the six original investors in Baring Iberia I Fund. Spanish savings bank Caixa Catalunya is a cornerstone investor, having acquired a 45 percent stake in the management company of BPEP España in 2002.

BENCIS CLOSES €250M BUYOUT FUND
The newly-independent Dutch private equity firm, formerly known as NeSBIC, has closed its second fund on €250 million ($322 million), six months after its launch. The fund was capped at €250 million despite being oversubscribed, according to managing partner Jeroen Pit. The fund attracted 40 percent of commitments from the Benelux region, with the remaining 60 percent coming from the rest of Europe. Investors in the fund included LGT Capital Partners, Allianz, AXA Private Equity, the European Investment Fund and Fortis. Fortis was the cornerstone investor in the original €170 million NeSBIC Buyout Fund.

AXA SPENDS $120M ON DEUTSCHE FUNDS
The secondary arm of AXA Private Equity has acquired 21 partially funded limited partnership interests from Deutsche Bank. AXA is paying $120 million (€93 million) for the assets, which have a combined commitment value of $382 million. The portfolio is made up of US private equity funds, most of which invest in buyouts. AXA is funding the purchase from the $250 million AXA Private Equity early secondary fund of funds it closed in March of this year. In addition to the Deutsche portfolio, the fund has completed another eight investments.

For Deutsche Bank, the disposal is yet another step in its ongoing departure from the private equity asset class. Since 2002, the bank has been selling off non-core assets to free up capital for use elsewhere. The strategy has already produced the disposal of several parts of the bank's private equity and real estate portfolio, including the sale of its former late stage private equity business, MidOcean Partners.

MUNSTERS SWAPS PGGM FOR ABP
Roderick Munsters, chief information officer at PGGM, will leave the Dutch pension fund to become a board member and chairman of investments at fellow Dutch asset manager, ABP Vermogensbeheer. Munsters will take up the new position in early 2005, replacing Jean Frijns, the current chairman of investments. Munsters will take charge of the largest pension fund in the Netherlands with €156 billion ($203 billion) worth of assets under management, almost triple the €57 billion PGGM fund. Munsters has been an executive director and chief investment officer at PGGM since 1997.