Omega Managers Buy Independence From Robertson Stephens –

SAN FRANCISCO – The five managers of the Omega and Crossover venture funds in January bought their independence from Robertson Stephens Investment Management (RSIM).

The new Omega Venture Partners Inc. will continue to manage Omega’s vehicles, which back late-stage deals in technology, business services and health care, as well as the Crossover funds, which back private and public growth companies.

The three Omega funds are 1989’s $22 million Omega Ventures I, 1994’s $43 million Omega Ventures II and 1998’s $155 million Omega Ventures III. The first two are fully invested.

Crossover II is a 1995 fund totaling $72 million. The first Crossover vehicle was raised in 1986 and ended its operations more than three years ago, said Manager Michael Stark.

Mr. Stark, along with other managers, Sy Kaufman, Tony Brenner, Vladimir Jacimovic and Dan Dunn, has no immediate plans to raise new capital and will carry on business as usual, except without the RSIM name.

“We made a decision that we didn’t want to be part of a company that is primarily a mutual-fund company,” Mr. Stark said, referring to RSIM.

Meanwhile, RSIM at press time was negotiating the terms of a management buyout of its mutual fund practice from BankAmerica. The remainder of Robertson Stephens’ investment banking practice was sold to BankBoston last year by short-time parent BankAmerica and is now known as BancBoston Robertson Stephens.

Omega Venture Partners will have a strategic relationship with BancBoston Robertson Stephens and will rent space in its San Francisco office, Mr. Stark said. BancBoston Robertson Stephens also will take a small piece of Omega’s profits, he added.

One advantage of being an independent venture capital fund is the freedom to affiliate with other groups of the firm’s choice, such as investment banks, something that was not possible when Omega was under another financial institution’s umbrella, Mr. Stark explained.

It is uncertain who will inherit the responsibility for Robertson Stephens’ aging venture funds – raised when the group was independent – but RSIM Managing Director M. Kathy Behrens said they likely will be managed by RSIM rather than by BankAmerica.