European fund briefs, February 2014

Northzone breezes towards second post-crisis fund

The conveyer belt of funds from technology investor Northzone rumbles on with the first close at €150 million ($204 million) of Northzone VII, just over three years after the firm raised €130 million for Northzone VI.

The Stockholm-based firm – an early and major investor in Spotify – expects to announce the new fund’s first two deals in January, Partner Tellef Thorleifsson told VCJ.

Like its predecessors, Fund VII will seek early-stage tech opportunities, mainly in the Nordic countries, but also in continental Europe and the UK, where Northzone has a London office.

Repeat investors account for about two-thirds of the new fund’s LP base, while new commitments have been won from Sweden’s SEB Pension Fund and fund-of-funds AP6.

Northzone VII has a target of €200 million and will become the firm’s largest fund.

Programma 101 behind schedule

New Italian VC Programma 101 has encountered headwinds in its maiden fundraising.

The Milan-based digital tech investor had intended to announce a first close at €35 million by August last year, but instead announced a €32 million close in December.

Anchor investors in the fund are asset manager Azimut and state fund Fondo Italiano di Investimento, which have committed €15 million each.

Programma 101 is the brainchild of Andrea de Camillo, an adviser to Italian technology investor Principia SGR, who hopes to finalize the fund at €50 million by mid-2014.

Programma 101 will mainly target Italian digital startups, investing about €3 million over the life of its companies.

Ixo on track for record fund

A private equity fund targeting the South of France has won support from some of France’s biggest institutional investors.

Toulouse-based Ixo Private Equity reached a first close for its third flagship vehicle following commitments from sovereign fund Bpifrance, insurers Axa France and CNP Assurances, and Credit Agricole bank.

The firm says it has now secured commitments for about €85 million, as it builds towards a target of €120 million.

Other investors include all the LPs in Ixo’s previous, 2008-vintage fund, which has so far returned 68% of investors’ cash.

The new fund will target Southern French SMEs with leading positions in niche markets across a variety of sectors, splitting its investments fairly evenly between leveraged buyout and growth capital deals.

Endless raises mini-fund

The management team of Leeds-based Endless has anchored a planned £10 million ($16 million) fund called Enact, which now stands at £7.5 million, thanks to support from high-net-worth individuals.

These will benefit from the income tax breaks that flow from Enact’s Enterprise Investment Scheme qualification.

It is the turnaround investor’s first fund dedicated to SMEs, which it defines as businesses with fewer than 250 employees. Endless will invest up to £2 million per company in all sectors and across the United Kingdom.

In keeping with the approach of its larger flagship funds, the firm will seek companies with robust business models that suffer cash-flow problems or other operational issues.

Bowmark hits target

London-based Bowmark Capital has reached a rapid and oversubscribed close of its fifth fund.

Bowmark V took just 10 weeks to reach its £375 million target, with half the commitments coming from continental Europe, a third from the United States and the rest from the United Kingdom and other countries.

There are 22, mostly repeat investors in the new fund, with pension funds and insurance companies accounting for about 59% of commitments.

Of the rest, 16% came from funds-of-funds, 16% from other financial institutions and 9% from endowments and family offices.

Bowmark targets growth-oriented service companies, typically with enterprise values of up to £100 million.

Compiled by Alex Derber