VSS loses European co-head

Marco Sodi left the mid-market firm in the spring after it ‘deferred’ fundraising on a European fund that had collected $105m.

Veronis Suhler Stevenson, a US-based mid-market specialist, lost the co-head of its European operations Marco Sodi earlier this year after the firm  halted fundraising for a Europe-focused vehicle, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.

Sodi still serves on the boards of several VSS portfolio companies. He is currently planning out his next move and would like to stay in the private equity industry, he told PEO in an interview Friday.

Sodi left VSS in March after it halted fundraising for VSS European Communications Partners, which had collected about $104 million and reached a first close, according to sources and filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The fund was targeting about $836 million, according to an SEC filing. The filing states that the dollar amounts on the fund were converted based on the exchange rate of €1 to $1.40.

Marco Sodi

The firm, which specialises in media and communication industry investments, pulled the European offering last year because of the anaemic fundraising environment, according to an industry source with knowledge of the developments.

VSS anticipates resuming fundraising on the European fund in parallel with raising its fifth core private equity fund, the industry person told PEO. It’s not clear when the firm plans to launch marketing on the fifth fund.

VSS declined to comment.

Sodi joined VSS in 1988 and opened its London office around 2000. He headed the London office with Morgan Callagy, who is now the sole head of VSS’ European activities.

The firm has experienced some senior-level turnover in the past year. John Veronis, co-chief executive officer of the firm, “withdrew” from the partnership in May as part of a transition plan that had been in the works for many months. James Rutherfurd, an investor relations executive with the firm, left and joined 3i earlier this year.

VSS has been investing from its fourth fund, which closed on $1.3 billion in 2006. The fund is close to being fully invested, with a little capital left for add-on investments, a source said. As of 31 December, VSS IV was being carried at a .74x multiple, according to a market source. More updated fund information was not available at press time.

The firm also has raised two mezzanine funds since 2004. The second mezzanine fund, VSS SC II, closed oversubscribed last year on more than $300 million.

VSS struck a partnership in June with Ares Capital to provide “flexible” debt capital to small and mid-market companies in the information, education, media and marketing services industries. The two firms will source deals and provide senior debt financing to companies with $5 million to $35 million of earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization.

Most recently, VSS was able to reap a 2.5x return on its exit of PEPcom, Germany’s sixth-largest cable television operator. VSS had invested in PEPcom with GMT Communications Partners, and the firms sold the company to STAR Capital Partners.