Tech drives VC resurgence as Alven launches fund

Alven Capital has begun marketing its latest fund with a €100m target. The fundraising follows strong returns for some VCs, including Advent Venture Partners, driven largely by burgeoning valuations in the technology sector.

Paris-headquartered early-stage investor Alven Capital has begun pre-marketing for its fourth fund, according to sources close to the situation. The firm has begun talks with existing LPs about the new vehicle, which is understood to be targeting €100 million in commitments. Triago is understood to be acting as placement agent for the fund, but declined to comment.

The firm makes investments primarily in France, and focuses on the internet sector, with some additional exposure to media, IT and services. It targets companies which have established revenues, and which are close to or at break-even stage.

Firms have enjoyed huge returns on the likes of  Facebook

In recent years, it has enjoyed a number of significant successes. It sold Webhelp to Barclays Private Equity for a 20x return in 2005 – Barclays, now rebranded as Equistone, recently sold its remaining stake in the business to Charterhouse Capital Partners having made a partial exit to Astorg Partners in 2007.

Alven also sold Companeo, an online services and equipment marketplace, to The Carlyle Group in 2010, generating a 10x return multiple. Its most recent exit was the sale of online clothing retailer MonShowroom to French supermarket group Casino for a 4x return earlier this year.

The firm’s debut fund, raised in 2000, returned 3x. One investor said that was exceptional for a fund of that vintage, given what happened with the dotcom bubble bursting. Its two subsequent funds were also top quartile, the source said.

Alven’s last fund, FCPR Alven Capital III, raised €100 million. Investors in that fund included Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, Quartilium, and the West Midlands Pension Fund.

Alven’s fundraising comes at a time when European venture is rallying after several lacklustre years. Several firms have benefited from the enormous valuations attached to companies including Facebook and Skype.

More recently,Advent Venture Partners made a 2.4x return on its investment in cloud-based social marketing group Vitrue, when it sold the business to Oracle. The firm’s investment generated a 93 percent IRR in 15 months.

Frédéric Court, a partner at Advent, said the realisation was the fourth in 15 months for the firm’s technology growth equity portfolio, which had generated 5.5x on realised investments with holding periods under three years.

The firm’s latest fund – Advent Private Equity 4 – is delivering a net IRR of 20 percent and a multiple of 2.4x. “We are proving that you can make money through investing in technology in Europe,” Court told Private Equity International.