NORTH AMERICA IN BRIEF

LEHMAN FIRE SALE
Bankrupt Lehman Brothers Holdings has struck a deal with management of its buyout fund, Lehman Brothers Merchant Banking, to spin out a portion of the funds as a private entity. Lehman will retain ownership of a $1.2 billion investment vehicle, and hold on to its $250 million limited partner investments. Limited partners in Lehman's $3.3 billion buyout fund can reduce their unfunded commitments by 25 percent.

NEW BOSSES AT KKR
Mega-private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts has appointed Michael Michelson and Alexander Navab to the newly created position of co-heads of the firm's North American operations. Michelson, based in the firm's Menlo Park, California office, runs KKR's healthcare industry team. Navab, in the New York office, heads up the firm's North American media and communications industry team.

AGENCY HIRES GATEKEEPERS
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) has hired investment firms BlackRock, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan to manage $2.5 billion in funds that will be allocated to private equity and real estate. The PBGC, a US federal corporation, has a $5.5 billion portfolio.

BAILOUT HELP FOR CHRYSLER
Cerberus Capital Management is backstopping the government's $4 billion bailout of Chrysler by donating its equity position in Chrysler's automotive operations. Cerberus also said it would use the “first $2 billion of proceeds” from its financing arm Chrysler Financial to bolster the company.

APEX GOES SOLAR
Chicago-based venture capital firm Apex Venture Partners has led a $47.5 million Series C investment in SolFocus, a maker of solar panels based in California. Apex joined returning investors US venture firms New Enterprise Associates and NGEN Partners, who participated in Series A and B rounds in 2007 of $27 million and $25 million respectively.

DEBT FUND HOLDS SECOND CLOSE
Huntingdon Capital, a San Diego, California-based mid-market mezzanine provider, has completed a second close of its Huntingdon Capital Fund II on $78 million. The firm plans to hold a final close on $100 million early this year. Huntingdon, founded in 2000, provides debt and equity financing to lower mid-market companies throughout California and the southwestern US.

LPS OFFERED REDUCED COMMITMENTS
TPG, the Texas-based buyout firm, informed its limited partners in December that it would allow them to reduce their commitments by as much as 10 percent, or up to $2 billion. The firm's decision came after fellow mega-firm Permira also allowed its LPs to cut back if they wished. TPG also said it would cut its annual management fees by 10 percent.

POLITICAL APPOINTMENT
Outgoing Missouri governor Matt Blunt will join newly established private equity firm Solamere Capital as a senior advisor. The firm was founded in June 2008 by Tagg Romney, son of Mitt Romney, founder of Bain Capital and former Massachusetts governor and US presidential candidate. The firm is based in Lexing ton, Massachusetts and is targeting $200 million for its debut fund.

HOW PRIVATE EQUITY FUNDRAISING FELL IN 2008US private equity firms raised $43 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008, down from $100 billion during the same period of 2007. This dramatic late-year slowdown contributed heavily to a year-over-year fundraising drop of $60 billion

2007 2008
Number of funds Amount raised Number of Funds Amount raised Percent
Buyout/corporate finance 222 $244.6bn 143 $i8ibn -26%
Mezzanine 18 $8.9bn 17 $40.2bn 351%
Venture 182 $33.ibn 150 $247bn -25%
Funds of funds 70 $28.7bn 34 $i2.9bn -55%
Secondary and other 14 $io.4bn 19 $6.7bn -36%
Total 506 $3257bn 363 $265.6bn -18%

BOOK DEAL
The Yucaipa Companies, a private equity firm owned by Ron Burkle, has purchased an 8.3 percent stake in book retailer Barnes & Noble for roughly $67.3 million. Mid-market buyout and growth fund the Yucaipa American Alliance Fund II has purchased a total of 2.75 million shares, and the Yucaipa American Alliance Parallel Fund II has bought 1.8 million shares.

AMUSEMENT PARK BLUES
Hard Rock Park, a private capital-backed rock music theme park, is to be liquidated after failing to find a buyer in a bankruptcy process which was filed in September 2008. The Myrtle Beach, South Carolina amusement park opened in April 2008 with roughly $400 million from investors including publicly listed Israeli holding companies Africa Israel Investment and Polar Investments.

ONE EQUITY LOSES TV GUIDE
JPMorgan private equity arm One Equity Partners has seen its agreed $300 million deal to purchase the TV Guide Network and TV Guide Online fall through. Entertainment studio Lionsgate offered to buy the assets for $255 million in a sale expected to close on 28 February. One Equity offered to pay $255 million plus up to $45million in earn-out provisions based on future financial performance.