The fund targets small buyouts and growth investments between $10 million and $50 million in companies with enterprise values less than $100 million. Solera expects to invest a significant portion of the fund in the US, according to Oregon documents.
In 1999 Molly Ashby, Mary Ellen Hennessy-Jones, Lori Koffman and Karen Mills founded Solera Capital. The latter two women left the firm shortly after its creation and Ashby has remained chairman since its founding. Hennessy-Jones is the firm’s president, according to OIC documents. The two are accompanied by five female managing directors and four junior investment professionals. The Wall Street Journal reported in an article last year that about two-thirds of the firm’s team is female.
Solera Capital declined to comment. The firm is working with Denning & Company on the fundraising, according to OIC documents.
Solera targets sectors undergoing change, the documents said. In its first fund, the New York-based firm aimed toward trends such as the demographic shift of the US Hispanic population, organic food and snacks and the growth in “affordable luxury” purchases.
Solera raised its first fund with capital commitments of $245 million between 2000 and 2002.
Fund I has five portfolio companies, including women’s fashion company Calypso St. Barth and food producer Annie’s Homegrown, which provided the bulk of the fund’s performance.
In 2002 Ashby joined Annie’s board of directors and has been the board’s chairman since 2004. Annie’s had a successful initial public offering in 2012 when it priced at $19 and started to trade at $31, according to an article published by The Wall Street Journal. As of Tuesday morning, Annie’s was trading at $39 per share.
In an April 2012 article, The Wall Street Journal called Annie’s “the hottest non-tech IPO,” and said Solera’s $81 million investment had increased to $538.4 million. Solera continues to hold a controlling interest in Annie’s, as reported in a company filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
Solera still owns Calypso St. Barth, which has recently expanded its retail stores to northern California and will open stores in the southern part of the state this summer. By the end of the year, Calypso expects to have 45 locations in the domestic US compared to the 39 stores open now.
The OIC committed $50 million to Solera’s first fund, but has not decided if it will commit to the second. The council is mulling over issues including key man provisions and preferred fees and has no timeline for bringing the potential commitment up for a vote, a spokesperson for the OIC told Private Equity International.