Ambienta holds €147.2m first close

The Milan-headquartered firm, which came to market in June this year, aims to collect €300m for its second fund.

Ambienta, an Italian-based firm focused on investing in the environmental sector, has held a €147.2 million first close on its second fund, Infrastructure Investor has learnt.

Ambienta II, which came to market in June and is targeting €300 million, collected more for the first close than it originally planned, Nino Tronchetti Provera, founder and managing partner at Ambienta, told Infrastructure Investor's sister publication Private Equity International.

“We aimed for €100 million”, he said, but “the market reacted positively to our idea”. The firm is using Rede Partners as a placement agent.

Approximately half of Ambienta’s investors re-upped. Half of the new fund consists of new investors, of which the vast majority are international LPs, according to Tronchetti Provera. “So far, we have eight international investors from the 16 in total. They are mostly from Europe but we also attracted a few US investors,” he said.

While fundraising remains a challenge, conditions have eased slightly, Tronchetti Provera indicated. “In the last few months, I have noticed that US investors are rediscovering Europe. I think both European and American investors understand that some of the southern European countries – and mainly Italy – are providing good opportunities.”

“Investors today are looking for private equity firms that can create value and not just [focus on] financial engineering. Today is the time for real industrial value creation, which is exactly what we do,” he said.

However, LPs only want to back good investment ‘themes’, he said, and an international approach is vital. “The reason why people are looking at our proposal is because we have a specific [industrial] strategy. We have two hubs in Germany and Italy where most industrial businesses are located. Approximately 85 percent of the revenues of our companies are outside their home countries and more than 50 percent of their revenues are coming from outside of Europe, where growth is happening.”

Ambienta, which was established in 2007, is a growth SME investor targeting investments in the environmental sector. It aims to capitalise on the growing markets for businesses focused on energy and resource efficiency, waste management and pollution, and renewable energy services. In 2009, it closed its first fund on €217 million.

So far, Ambienta has made one divestment from Fund I. In July, it sold Tower Light, a business that makes lighting towers for construction sites to an American trade buyer. The company had a 30 percent growth rate, according to Tronchetti Provera, with 90 percent of the sales coming outside of Italy and a big chunk coming outside of Europe. “It delivered an internal rate of return in triple digits,” he said. Additionally, the growth rate of Ambienta’s portfolio has been more than 15 percent in the last few months, he added.

With the deal pipeline “looking very promising”, Ambienta plans to deploy capital from its latest fund early next year, according to Tronchetti Provera.

It is unclear when the firm will wrap up fundraising for Ambienta II. “We have had a very good and promising start but I don’t like to make a detailed prediction on our final close. We are not in a hurry,” he said.