Standard Life sees uptick in realisations

Reflecting improved exit activity among underlying funds, half-year results of the group’s listed private equity fund of funds include a 300 percent increase in distributions over the previous reporting period.

Standard Life European Private Equity Trust Plc, a fund of funds portfolio managed by Standard Life Investments (Private Equity) and listed on the London Stock Exchange, has received £16.9 million (€25.41 million, $31.05 million) of distributions from underlying investments during the six months ended 31 March 2004.

It is the largest amount of distributions the trust has generated since listing on 29 March 2001. It compares with £5 million received in the six months ended 31 March 2003 and £8.6 million received in the period ended 30 September 2003.

Among the liquidity events that the trust has benefited from in the past six months are the sales of Clondalkin, which was formerly owned by Candover, Riverdeep (Alchemy Partners), Cementbouw Handel & Industrie (CVC Capital Partners) and the recapitalisation of Halfords (also CVC).

Citing improving macroeconomic conditions in Europe and stable capital markets as positive factors influencing the trust’s performance, Standard Life reported net asset value per ordinary share of 97.3p, up 4 percent over the previous six month period. 

The trust is invested in 30 private equity partnerships and was valued at £136.5 million at the end of the reporting period, up from £126.9 million.

Outstanding commitments to these partnerships were £116.1 million (£141.6 million). Standard Life said that although new investment activity had slowed compared to the previous 18 months due to lower volumes and less attractive asset prices, it expected the remaining capital to be drawn down over the next three years.  

Standard Life Investments (Private Equity), led by Jonny Maxwell and David Currie, invests in private equity partnership on behalf of its Edinburgh-based parent as well as third parties. In January, the group closed European Strategic Partners II (ESP II), its second non-listed fund of funds, on €1.09 billion ($1.38 billion).

Standard Life Investments (Private Equity) currently has €2.4 billion of capital under management, making it one of the largest fund of funds managers active in Europe.