DuSSELDORF, Germany/LONDON – West Private Equity, the new private equity arm of WestLB, has crystallized plans for the launch of its pan-European fund and hired Michael Paetsch as its third principal to head the group’s German advisory company, West Private Capital.
Paetsch has a strong telecommunications background, having spent eight years at German electric giant Siemens and o.tel.o, the VEBA/RWE telecoms joint venture. Chief executive Philip Buscombe, formerly of Investcorp, and managing director Jeremy Hand, who joined from Duke Street, head the London team.
The target set for the vehicle was trimmed to euro 400 million ($418.9 million) from the euro 500 million ($523.6 million) originally targeted, a figure that is nonetheless consistent with the fund’s mid-market focus. As expected, WestLB has made a substantial contribution, providing the fund with euro 140 million ($146.6 million) of initial capital. Salomon Smith Barney has been appointed external placement agent for the fund, and marketing to institutions in Europe, the United States and the Middle East was expected to kick off in September.
West Private Equity will target buyout/buy-in and expansion capital opportunities among businesses in the euro 25 million to euro 250 million ($26.2 million to $261.8 million) range. Reflecting the specific expertise of its senior executives, the fund is likely to focus on four key industry sectors: business support services; information technology, telecoms and media; consumer products and services; and special situation industrials. This focus is not, however, exclusive, and the vehicle will invest opportunistically across a broad range of industry sectors.
Germany naturally will be one of the fund’s principal target markets, given the strength of WestLB’s domestic network. West Private Equity’s other first choice markets are the United Kingdom, Benelux, Switzerland, Austria and Italy. The fund might also invest in France, Spain and Scandinavia, albeit more selectively.
Precedents for the West Private Equity operation are encouraging – WestLB was founding sponsor of the CWB private equity business, which turned into Doughty Hanson.