Hicks Muse Enters International VC –

DALLAS – In a move that further obscures the line between buyout firms and venture capitalists, Hicks Muse Tate & Furst Inc. has partnered with CMGI Inc. and Pacific Century CyberWorks Ltd. (PCCW) to form a $1.5 billion venture fund dedicated to international Internet start-ups. Each of the private equity powerhouses will ante up to $500 million into their latest creation, @Ventures Global Partners.

Although the new fund has yet to set a timetable for when it will announce its first investment, it is likely the venture process will move swiftly once begun, said Dan Blanks, senior managing partner at Hicks Muse. The reason for such optimism is that @Ventures Global Partners will have the opportunity to invest in venture rounds for companies that already reside in the respective asset portfolios of one or more of the partners.

“We have not as a partnership acquired anything yet,” Blanks said. “But it could be very soon since the three of us combined have so many attractive assets already in our portfolios.”

He added that each partner brings unique qualitative resources to the table even though each plans to make a similar financial contribution. As for Hicks Muse, Blanks said, “We have been extremely active in Latin America where neither [PCCW or CMGI] profess to have particular experience.”

The creation of @Ventures Global Partners was announced just one day after Hicks Muse and CMGI each committed $500 million, in separate agreements, toward PCCW’s upcoming $35.9 billion takeover of Hong Kong-based Cable & Wireless HKT from British telecom giant Cable & Wireless PLC.