Whitney sings the blues

Whitney & Co has closed its latest fund $900m off its $2bn target and will respond to investor concerns by laying off 20 per cent of its staff, including most of those in its foreign offices.

US private equity company Whitney & Co has closed its latest fund $900 million shy of its $2 billion target. The firm plans to stop all investment in non-US companies and fire 20 per cent of its staff.

Whitney will lay off 14 executives in London, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore, leaving one or two employees in each office to manage existing portfolio companies.

According to Bloomberg, the move is an attempt to bolster investor confidence by reassuring them of Whitney's tight investment focus. In a statement, Whitney said that the market slump had changed their outlook and that it now preferred to concentrate on investing in the US, where it claimed to see the best growth opportunities.

Whitney had previously planned to expand its investment activities. In a statement, the company said that as much as 40 per cent of the new fund was to be invested outside the US. In anticipation, the company changed its name a year ago from J.H. Whitney & Co to forge a stronger brand.</

The company was founded in 1946 by John Whitney, an industrialist. It manages about $5bn in assets.