Sea Lions to target European technology

UK investment firm Caledonia is to cornerstone a E100m European fund launched by Sea Lions Ventures, set up by former Broadview and Robertson Stephens investment executives.

UK-listed investment company Caledonia Investments has formed an alliance with two former technology investment professionals to launch the Focus Fund, a E100m investment targeting undervalued listed companies in European technology and life science sectors.


Caledonia has teamed up with Patrick Seely, a former European principal at US venture capital house Broadview Capital Partners, a subsidiary of the eponymous technology banking boutique, and Stephen Schweich, formerly a managing director at US investment bank Robertson Stephens. The newly established venture, Sea Lion Ventures, has already secured a E15m commitment for the Fusion Fund from Caledonia, which will take a 50 per cent stake in the management company.


The fund plans to take stakes of up to 30 per cent in listed European technology and life science companies primarily in UK, France and Germany. “We’re looking for profitable, well-run companies that have been overlooked by the larger institutions,” said Tim Ingram, chief executive of Caledonia. Ingram added that the firm has already looked at 1,200 companies. “We will be an active, but supportive, investor.”


Ingram acknowledges that the current market is looking sceptically new fundraising propositions, but believes that investors will be persuaded by Caledonia’s track record and the ‘huge opportunities’ in the sector. “It is a difficult market, but investors will see that we have put our money where are mouth is.” Ingram said the fund is close to securing a ‘major commitment’ from an unnamed financial institution.


The current initiative is meant to be the first in a series of funds for Sea Lions Ventures. Future offerings will extend beyond the life sciences and technology sectors, although no details of future funds have as yet been disclosed.


The fund is set to hold a first close in the first quarter of 2003, with first investments likely to take place soon after.