Vitruvian holds first close on €424m

Veteran Apax manager Toby Wyles’s return to market with his own firm Vitruvian Partners is on track after holding a first close at the end of February on €424 million.

Vitruvian Partners, mid-market buyout firm, has held a first close on its debut fund on €424 million with commitments in hand to taking it to around €450 million, according to a letter to investors. It is targeting a final close of €900 million.

Toby Wyles, formerly one of the global equity partners at top buyout firm Apax Partners, launched the firm last October with a star team of veteran deal-doers to launch a mid-market firm.

Vitruvian Partners, named after the Leonardo da Vinci study in proportion and balance known as the Vitruvian Man, is the first spin-out from Europe’s blue-chip buyout firms, since Harald Mix left Industri Kapital to found his own firm in 2003.

Wyles, 45, who was with Apax for 13 years and co-head of its European leveraged team when he left in 2003, has recruited Michael Risman, also a global equity partner at Apax until October last year, and Ian Riley, 43 and a senior partner with rival firm BC Partners until he left in August 2003.

Risman and Riley will be managing partners alongside Wyles. David Nahama, a partner at Apax investing in venture deals and part of that firm’s technology and telco team, is joining Vitruvian as a partner. Mark Hartford, until 18 months ago chief financial officer at Bridgepoint, a European buyout group, is the final partner in the starting line-up.

It also plans to appoint special partners with backgrounds in industry to help them identify and execute deals.

Vitruvian aims to invest in “dynamic situations where change drivers are present,” according to an investor. It is planning to put two-thirds of the money to work in the UK and the remainder it will invest opportunistically in northern Europe.

Pre-marketing literature highlights the fund’s focus as a return to the type of deals the team did before their previous firms moved up in scale.

Wyles and Monument Group, which is helping place the fund, declined to comment.