European News Briefs, November


Balderton’s Gamble Pays Off

Last decade’s punt on an online bookmaker is the wager that keeps on winning for Balderton Capital, as Betfair prepares a long-awaited London listing.

Betfair’s flotation, for 10% of its business, was given a rangy £1.16 billion to £1.48 billion valuation, although the offer was quickly over-subscribed.

Balderton was an early investor in Betfair, selling part of its stake to Japan’s Softbank in 2006, netting 130 times its original investment. However, the firm retained a 7% stake, then valued at £108 million.

Balderton has not revealed whether it will offload any of its shares in the October listing, but Betfair expects half its major shareholders, as well as the board and senior management, comprising three-quarters of the company’s equity base, to take part in the offer. —Alex Derber


VCs Continue to Fight AIFM Directive

National and international venture capital representatives have blasted proposed new European alternative investment legislation, claiming it would “irreparably” harm small businesses.

The European Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD) demands greater transparency from hedge and private equity funds, but VC associations have said the new rules are ill-suited to venture capital.

“Superimposing rules intended for large trading institutions on small venture capital firms would directly impact support for SMEs and other innovative companies in Europe and around the world,” says Katherine Woodthorpe, CEO of the Australian Venture Capital Association.

Of chief concern are measures requiring disclosure of portfolio company information and restrictions on non-EU investors doing business in Europe, and vice versa.

As of VCJ’s press time, a vote on AIFMD, which would take effect from mid-2012, had been postponed as European Union legislators sought a compromise on a number of controversial points.

The latest draft proposal fails to resolve the thorny third-country issue, whereby European investors could be prevented from investing in offshore-domiciled funds. —Alex Derber


Alpha Bets on Françoise Saget

After three years between the sheets, Paris-based Activa Capital has parted company with Françoise Saget Linvosges, selling the household linen retailer to Alpha PE.

While financial terms were not disclosed, Alpha Fund 5, which added Françoise to its portfolio, targets companies with an enterprise value between €30 million and €300 million.

Activa’s relationship with Françoise Saget began in 2006, when the firm assisted a management buyout from Yves Rocher.

Mail-order market veteran Marie-Françoise Kerhuel returned as part of the MBO to lead the company, which merged with Linvosges in 2007 and has, since then, seen turnover rise from €48 million to €130 million.

Alpha cited the business’s growth potential and presence in online, mail-order and retail segments as major reasons for its acquisition. —Alex Derber


Strüngmann Gives Immatics a Lift

Biotech developer Immatics has attracted heavyweight backing from billionaire twins Drs. Andreas and Thomas Strüngmann, founders of German generic drugs giant Hexal.

Together with Munich-based VC firm MIG, Strüngmann family office-managed AT Impf has pumped roughly €27 million into a Series C round for Immatics, which develops therapeutic cancer vaccines.

Immatics’ new investors were joined in the Series C, which totalled €54 million, by existing shareholders Dievini Hopp Biotech and Wellington Ventures. Dievini remains Immatics’ largest shareholder.

The funding allows Immatics to perform Phase III clinical trials of its IMA901 product, developed to improve renal cell carcinoma survivability. —Alex Derber


MTI Brightens Eykona Faces

Medtech startup Eykona Technologies has sewn up £1.2 million of additional funding to nurse the launch of its 3D wound imaging technology.

Having already received £400,000 in seed capital, Oxford-based Eykona will use the latest round to pursue the release of its product in the United States and United Kingdom in the first half of next year. Its hand-held device allows medical staff to quickly and accurately measure the volume of hard-to-heal wounds to assess how treatment is progressing.

Specialist technology investor MTI Partners led the round via the University of Manchester Intellectual Property Fund, which it manages.

Also participating were H2O Venture Partners, Hygea VCT and Parkwalk EIS Technology Fund I. Venture firm Technikos remains the largest shareholder in Eykona. —Alex Derber


Cheap Chic Turns Gimv Heads

Private Outlet

has proved a smart fit for Gimv, which has added the online fashion retailer to its wardrobe of French investments.

Investing €4.9 million itself, Antwerp-based Gimv led a €9 million Series B round in Private Outlet, an online and offline seller of surplus designer fashion.

Private Outlet—which secured €7.3 million of initial funding in 2008 from BayTech Venture Capital, GP Bullhound and Kreos Capital—will use the new capital to support acquisitions and build on its international operations in Italy, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom.

It is the ninth French company to be added to Gimv’s venture capital portfolio, and the second this month following a €15 million commitment to a management buyout of online telephony provider Onedirect. Gimv values its French portfolio at €105 million. —Alex DerberWARSAW

Innova Taps into Marmite

Warsaw’s Innova Capital has gobbled up a hefty slice of Marmite International, which manufactures cast marble bathroom fittings.

The firm took a 70% stake in Marmite via investment from its Innova 4 and Innova 5 funds.

Although the size of the investment was not revealed, Innova usually commits €5 million to €15 million for a three- to five-year horizon.

Zakrzewo, Poland-based Marmite was established in Sweden in 1978, but began transferring production to Poland in 1989 and now rolls out around 1 million washbasins and shower trays per year. —Alex Derber


Octopus Wraps Arms around PrismaStar

Octopus Investments has inked a £2 million deal with shopping software provider PrismaStar.

Although PrismaStar had already recorded two angel rounds, Octopus’s commitment was the first institutional investment in the company.

The £2 million—which comes from Octopus Titan VCT funds, the Eureka EIS Portfolio Service and Octopus Venture Partners—secures Octopus a “significant minority shareholding” in PrismaStar, which offers customisable means for online shoppers to refine product searches.

U.K.-based PrismaStar will use the investment to expand in Europe and the U.S. —Alex Derber