Ohio fund backs 4 local firms

The Ohio Capital Fund has committed an undisclosed amount to four venture firms, a move it hopes will spur seed and early stage investments in the Buckeye State.

The $150 million fund of funds invested in Draper Triangle Ohio Ventures, Columbia Capital IV, Reservoir Partners II and Globespan Capital Partners V. The fund is managed by Fort Washington Investment Advisors and Peppertree Partners.

The statutes that created the Ohio Capital Fund dictate that 75% of its assets must be invested in venture firms based in Ohio. Toward that end, Draper Triangle Ventures, which is based in Pittsburgh, has opened a parallel fund and hired a new partner who will invest out of Ohio. Draper Triangle Ohio will invest side-by-side with Draper Triangle Ventures II, a 2001 vintage fund that posted a negative 23% IRR at the end of 2005, according to data released by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (Ohio BWC).

Reservoir Venture Partners, which held a first close on its new fund after receiving the Ohio Capital Fund’s commitment, did not perform well with its most recent fund. It reported a negative IRR of 22.3% at the end of 2005, according to data released by the Ohio BWC.

The negative results for Resevoir and Draper Triangle do not worry Steve Baker, vice president of equity capital responsible for the Ohio Capital fund for Fort Washington. “Interim valuations are not necessarily indicative of how well a fund will ultimately perform,” he says.

Ohio became the center of a private equity snafu at the end of last year when Ohio BWC’s announcement in December that it would disclose the performance of 68 venture capital and private equity funds (including ABRY Partners, The Carlyle Group and others). The performance numbers were calculated by Ennis Knupp & Associates of Chicago. Ennis Knubb was hired in June 2005 to audit the Ohio BWC’s $15.7 billion securities portfolio after the discovery of missing money in bureau investments with a Toledo rare-coin dealer, a controversy dubbed “Coingate.” —Alexander Haislip