Privately Speaking: Bregal Investments

Control is a preoccupation for many limited partners in today’s private equity industry. They want more control over how their money is spent – which means more control over fees and terms, and more control over the kind of exposure they get. Particularly for the larger and more sophisticated LPs, this has meant a greater focus on direct and co-investing.

Bregal Investments has clearly been changing its focus in this way – though its story is rather more complicated than that of the standard private equity LP.

The investment arm of the billionaire Brenninkmeijer family, Bregal began life in 2002 as a global fund of funds, bringing all of the family’s private equity activity (it had been investing in the asset class for about 40 years) under one roof.

But ever since its launch, the organisation has always been keen to have more control over its capital, unlike other investors who were content to make passive commitments. As an LP, Bregal preferred to take anchor stakes in select funds, where it would serve on advisory committees and co-invest alongside its chosen partners.

That strategy was also intended to build the Bregal brand in the market ahead of its eventual expansion into direct private equity investing, which began in earnest in 2009 after Bregal’s acquisition of UK mid-market shop Englefield Capital.

Today, Bregal has three in-house private equity divisions: Bregal Capital, which emerged from Englefield and invests in Europe; Bregal Partners, which came out of Centre Partners, a US-based mid-market shop; and Bregal Sagemount, a growth-oriented team that was created from scratch within the organisation.

Clearly the firm has clearly come a long way from its original incarnation. But has it come sufficiently far to be able to compete for deals with the savviest GPs?