European News Roundup, July 2010

YORKSHIRESix Firms to Run North West Venture Fund

The Northwest Regional Development Agency has chosen six firms to manage the region’s £184.8 million venture fund, the North West Fund.

The North West Fund is the umbrella name for the six funds that will be available to businesses in the region in the form of debt, equity and quasi-equity. Initially, £170 million of the North West Fund will be allocated to the six fund managers following a 10-day standstill period. The fund managers then have a mandate to invest their allocation into the specific product or sector they manage between July 2010 and December 2015.

YFM Private Equity has been selected to manage a £45 million development capital fund; Enterprise Ventures will be responsible for a £30 million venture capital fund; FW Capital will run a £35 million loan fund; Spark Impact will take on a £25 million biomedical fund; CT Investment Partners will run a £20 million energy and environmental fund; and AXM Venture Capital will run a £15 million fund targeting digital and creative investments. —A.D.LONDON

Iceland Foods Says No Sale

Underlying sales at Iceland Foods have picked up in recent weeks, and the frozen foods chain will press ahead with its expansion this financial year, albeit at a slower rate than the year before, its chief executive said.

Malcolm Walker, who founded the 776-store chain in 1970, said last month that he has no plans to sell his minority stake in the business and did not know when the company’s majority owners, Iceland’s nationalised banks, might look to sell.

“I’d never float … and we’re not interested in selling,” Walker said. “It would only be a VC that would buy it, and we’re not interested in working with a VC.”—ReutersLONDONBalderton Ekes Out Profit on Dot-Com Deal

It wasn’t a blockbuster exit, but Balderton Capital can at least say it made money on its 10-year-old investment in online lingerie seller Figleaves Global Trading Ltd.N Brown Group, owner of several home shopping businesses, has agreed to buy Figleaves for £11.5 million (or $16.9 million). Balderton and an undisclosed firm invested $5.1 million in London-based Figleaves in November 2000, according to Thomson Reuters (publisher of VCJ).

N Brown says it is the biggest retailer of lingerie on the Internet and that the acquisition will add 1.2 million monthly customers. N Brown CEO Alan White says he will consider further acquisitions once Figleaves has been fully integrated. —Reuters and A.D.

DUBLIN & BELFASTShocker: Irish Investors Like Ireland

In what should come as no surprise, four out of five venture capital firms surveyed at InterTradeIreland’s ninth annual venture capital conference in May said they plan to invest in Irish businesses in the third quarter of this year.

The survey, which included 300 Irish-based entrepreneurs and investors, also revealed that 83% of VCs are likely to invest in Ireland over the next three months. The majority of attendees (83%) at the Belfast event also said that the caliber of business opportunities is improving and that the opportunities are better than they were two years ago.

A majority (77%) of those surveyed said they are cautiously optimistic about the future. In terms of sectors with the greatest investment potential in the next year, ICT came out on top, followed by environmental, digital media and Web investments. —A.D.WARSAWEI Buys Supermarket Chain

Venture capital fund Enterprise Fund VI, managed by Enterprise Investors (EI) has acquired 49% of Dino, a chain of supermarkets in Western Poland for €50 million.

Founded in 1999, Dino runs 97 stores and typically opens one to two new stores each month. The supermarket chain’s revenue totaled €97 million last year and is expected to grow by 30% this year.

Enterprise Investors is one of the oldest and largest venture capital firms in Poland and Central and Eastern Europe. The total capital of its seven investment funds amounts to €1.7 billion. To date, those funds have invested €1.3 billion in 118 companies. —A.D.PARISArtificial Heart Maker Pumped for IPO

Artificial heart maker Carmat, which is backed by Truffle Capital, has registered for a €19.8 million IPO on the Alternext of NYSE-Euronext Paris.

Based in the town of Velizy-Villacoublay, outside of Paris, Carmat plans to use the new capital to complete pre-clinical trials on its artificial hearts and finalise pre-clinical testing.

The company plans to sell 800,000 new shares at €17.35 to €20.15 each. An extension clause has also been added which would allow Carmat to sell another 258,000 if there is enough demand.

Besides Truffle Capital, Carmat is backed by France’s state innovation agency, OSEO, and EADS, according to a 2008 report by Reuters. Carmat was spun out of EADS and has raised more than €7 million in venture funding plus €33 million in grants-in-aid and loans from OSEO, according to Reuters. —A.D. and Reuters LONDONBarclays Ventures Selling Fila, Winding Down

Barclays Ventures, the venture capital and private equity division of Barclays Capital, has put Italian sports brand Fila up for sale as the venture unit prepares to be wound down, according to a report last month by The Daily Telegraph.

The venture unit of Barclays Capital is coming to an end because of an internal conflict between the division’s former chief, Kip Kapur, and head of Barclays Capital, Bob Diamond, the Telegraph reported.

Barclays Ventures joined India’s Batra Group in 2008 to buy Fila for £86 million from US-based hedge fund Cerberus. —A.D.