Proton Equity Partners abandons fundraising

The CapMan spin-out hoped to raise SEK 2bn for its debut buyout fund to target investments in Sweden, but has pulled its fundraising after failing to get traction in the market.

Proton Equity Partners, a Swedish private equity firm, has abandoned its fundraising efforts after failing to attract sufficient investment, according to several sources familiar with the matter. 

It is understood the team came to market last year attempting to raise approximately SEK 2 billion (€230 million, $310 million). 

The fund planned to invest in the Swedish “smaller middle market”, according to the firm’s website, backing companies with “a proven business model, stable and predictable cash flows and a turnover from 100 million up to approximately 1 billion SEK”. 

Proton, established last year, was set up by four CapMan professionals: Mats Gullbrandsson, Malin Säfweräng, Jonas Lagerstedt and Hendrik Tholander. 

Gullbrandsson was a former senior partner at CapMan Buyout, where he worked since 2003. 

Prior to founding Proton, Säfweräng had been an investment director at CapMan Buyout in Stockholm since 2006. Before joining CapMan she worked for JPMorgan Chase in London in the M&A group. 

Tholander previously worked as an investment director at CapMan Buyout where he started in 2006. Before joining CapMan he worked for HSBC Global investment Banking in London in the M&A group. 

Lagerstedt was a partner at CapMan Buyout, where he started in 2011. Before joining CapMan, Jonas worked for 16 years at The Boston Consulting Group, according to Proton’s website.  

On Lagerstedt’s LinkedIn page there is no mention of Proton. Instead he is listed as the chief executive officer and management adviser at 4ii, which is focussed on management support in turn around or structural change situations, from October 2010 to present. It is unclear whether he has left the team. 

Proton did not respond to several requests for comment by press time. 

Following the pulled fundraise, which is understood to have happened in the summer, it is unclear whether Proton will attempt to invest on a deal by deal basis.

“Investors are very selective when it comes to first time funds,” one source with knowledge of the matter told Private Equity International. “I think their track-record was decent but not exciting – and it’s a tough fundraising market.” 

“There is demand for Scandinavia, but there’s not enough demand for every fund to get raised,” another source added. 

Many investors already have established relationships in the Nordics and are reluctant to back a new team unless it really brings something different to the table. 

There is also a lot of competition in the Nordic region. Adelis Equity Partners, founded by former Triton executive Jan Åkesson and former 3i executive Gustav Bard, held a first close on approximately SEK 2 billion(€230 million; $303 million), this summer. AAC Nordic is also understood to be in the market attempting to collect €150 million. 

Meanwhile, Herkules Capital is also in market targeting NOK 6 billion (€760 million, $990 million) for its Private Equity Fund IV, while FSN Capital, a fellow GP in the Nordics, has been out in the market since the beginning of the year, attempting to raise between €400 million and €500 million for its fourth fund.

IK investment Partners is trying to raise €1.7 billion for its IK2011 Fund, which held a €1bn close in March 2012, and Nordic Capital is still attempting to wrap up fundraising efforts for its eighth buyout fund. Nordic, which began marketing the fund in April 2012, held a €1.7 billion first close in February 2013 and is expected to close the fund in the autumn.