Guggenheim raises $50M for early stage

Guggenheim Partners—a 10-year-old money management firm with assets in fixed income, real estate, hedge funds and commercial aircraft—has raised $49.5 million for an early stage venture capital fund, according to a regulatory filing.

Helped by the Zurich-based placement agent Moravia Capital, the fund, which had a $10 million initial close in the summer, raised the money from nine investors, including the Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System. The fund, called Guggenheim Technology Ventures I, is reportedly targeted at $150 million.

The new vehicle is believed to be the first formal fund for Guggenheim Venture Partners, which was launched in 2006. Guggenheim Venture Partners has made at least seven investments to date and has co-invested with the likes of Menlo Ventures, U.S. Venture Partners and Venrock Associates, according to Thomson Reuters (publisher of VCJ).

Guggenheim Venture Partners is interested in a variety of sectors. In the United States, it has invested in two Internet companies, one semiconductor maker, a medical equipment company and an oil and gas exploration company. It has also backed a holding company in Spain and a logistics company in India.

Michael Burns and Eric Rothfus are listed as the managing directors of both Guggenheim Venture Partners and Guggenheim Technology Ventures I. Both were formerly partners at TL Ventures, where among their other director positions, they sat together on the board of wireless communications startup Airwalk Communications in Richardson, Texas.

Burns and Rothfus are based just outside Philadelphia. Guggenheim Partners also operates offices in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, St. Louis, London, Hong Kong and Geneva.

In early December, the firm expanded into India by acquiring the India-focused private equity fund of funds operated by Thomas Weisel Partners. The fund, called Thomas Weisel India Opportunity Fund, retained the Thomas Weisel managers.

Guggenheim Partners traces its heritage to the Guggenheim family, known best for the Guggenheim museums in New York, Venice, Berlin, Bilboa, Spain and Abu Dhabi. According to the firm’s website, its venture investors are focused on early stage and “restart” tech companies, including optical, electronic and power components. It also focuses on opportunities in networking, telecommunications, digital media and the Internet. —Constance Loizos

DEALWATCH: Five recent investments by Guggenheim Venture Partners

Bancaja Inversiones SA_Holding company

Milagro Exploration_Explores oil and gas reserves

Ohio Medical Corp._Medical equipment

Redlasso Inc._Internet search technologies for media communications

Vikram Logistic & Maritime Services Pvt. Ltd._Transportation and logistics services

Note: Investments made between Aug. 6, 2007, and July 24, 2008. Sources: Thomson Reuters