3I'S SMOOTH OPERATOR

A job well done, Bruno Deschamps might have concluded as Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) agreed to hand over UK frozen food supplier Brake Bros to rival US private equity firm Bain Capital for around £1.3 billion (€1.9 billion; $2.6 billion) at the end of June.

After all, as chairman of the business, Deschamps deserved much of the credit for delivering a profit which – though undisclosed – was described as “substantial” by sources close the deal. Having taken Brake Bros private in August 2002 for £627 million, CD&R and minority investor CCMP Capital saw the value of the group double during the period of ownership.

With this notable success all but secured (the deal was awaiting regulatory approval at the time of going to press), Deschamps, declining to rest on his laurels, opted for a whole new challenge – as head of 3i France. In his new role, which was announced at the end of July, Deschamps takes over from Guy Zarzavatdjian, who was promoted to head up 3i's growth capital business towards the end of last year.

Deschamps said three elements of 3i's offer attracted him: its international partnership, with expansion planned in the US and Asia; a spread of venture, growth capital, infrastructure, listed equity and buyout investing; and the opportunity to focus more on his home country of France (Deschamps had been a partner in CD&R's London office).

From Deschamps' perspective, the move also represented something of a clean break. Brake Bros stands to be the last realisation from CD&R's 2002-vintage $3.5 billion fund VI which also invested in the likes of Rexel, Culligan and VWR – all businesses Deschamps was personally involved with. CD&R has yet to make a European investment from its latest Fund VII, which raised $4 billion last year, plus $1 billion for a co-investment vehicle.

Prior to joining CD&R in 2002, Deschamps ran his family-owned chemicals company SAIM before joining German manufacturing group Henkel and then becoming president of Ecolab, a US cleaning and sanitation firm.

BRANSON TO RAISE $400M FOR PRIVATE EQUITY
Sir Richard Branson, the UK billionaire and head of Virgin Group, is about to launch his first institutional private equity fund. A $400 million (€289 million) vehicle under the Virgin Green banner is planned, targeting opportunities in renewable energy and energy efficiency. The fundraising will effectively double the assets under Virgin's management that target the renewables sector. Branson launched Virgin Fuels in September last year with a commitment of $400 million, of which around $175 million has since been invested. Virgin is understood to be investing $100 million in the new fund.

RIVERSIDE CLOSES $315M EUROPEAN FUND
The Riverside Company has closed its third European fund on €315 million ($433 million). The fund exceeded its initial target of €250 million, and is nearly ten times the size of its last European fund, which closed on €38 million in July 2002. The firm plans to target growth-oriented, niche businesses with enterprise values between €15 million and €120 million. The fund has already invested in seven companies, including a €25 million equity investment in ONI, a Portuguese telecommunications company. Fundraising for Riverside Europe Fund III began in early 2006.

NBGI HOLDS FIRST CLOSE ON £62.5M
UK-focused mid-market firm NBGI Private Equity has held a first close on its second fund at £62.5 million (€92 million; $127 million). It has already secured underwriting from its parent, National Bank of Greece, for the fund's entire £100 million target but is looking to diversify its investor base ahead of the final close. NBGI's Mark Owen said: “Our parent house has underwritten the fund and will be a cornerstone investor with £50 million committed. We are seeking to raise half the funds from outside parties.”

RJD CLOSES FIRST INDEPENDENT FUND ON £180M
RJD Partners has closed its first fund since spinning out of parent Royal London Mutual Insurance Society last year. The second fund attracted commitments from all the limited partners in RJD's first fund, plus eight more institutional LPs and 12 other private investors. RJD Partners was known as Royal London Private Equity until it bought itself out of its parent in October last year. It now has more than £250 million under management.

RUTLAND CLOSES SECOND FUND ON £322M
UK mid-market turnaround investor Rutland Partners has closed its second fund on £322 million (€482 million; $661 million). The fund had an original target of £250 million and held a first close on £312 million in December after four months of fundraising. The final close coincides with a £10 million commitment from New Star Private Equity Investment Trust, the fund of funds that was created in March when New Star Asset Management merged August Equity Trust with Rutland Trust. It has already bought Attends Healthcare from 3i for €93.5 million.

SYNTAXIS HOLDS DEBUT MEZZANINE CLOSE
Syntaxis Capital has held a first close on its debut fund, which is targeting €125 million ($173 million) for mezzanine investments in Central and Eastern Europe. The mezzanine specialist, which was founded last year by three former executives of Mezzanine Management, has held a first close after raising “just under half” its €125 million target, according to managing partner Ben Edwards. Shortly after launch, the firm entered into a strategic alliance with Indigo Capital, a pan-European mezzanine player which recently closed a €550 million fund. The deal involved Indigo taking a minority stake in Syntaxis's management company, although it will not be a limited partner in the fund.

LEHMAN RAISES $500M IN IPO
Lehman Brothers Private Equity Partners met its target of raising $500 million (€363 million) from the listing of a closed-end private equity fund of funds on Euronext Amsterdam. The success of the fundraising comes as other alternative asset managers have been forced to cancel or scale down their public offerings. The Carlyle Group recently completed the float of a specialist debt fund following a postponement and scaling down of its target from $415 million to $300 million.