Greenhill launches first venture fund

Almost two years after going public, the New York-based investment bank has raised $80 million for its first venture capital fund.

Investment bank Greenhill & Co. is bolstering its merchant banking unit by launching its first venture capital fund. The fund, which raised $80 million in its initial closing, will focus on early-stage investments in technology services or business information services in the New York, Connecticut and New Jersey area.

Greenhill’s merchant banking unit has met with success recently and is quickly emerging as a key part of the company. Greenhill Capital Partners, the private equity arm of the company manages two private equity funds. The firm’s first fund is reportedly worth $423 million and has had an internal rate of return over 50 percent. Greenhill raised a second private equity fund last year, worth $875 million.

The venture fund will be managed be Steve Brotman and Brian Hirsch, who previously founded, developed and managed venture capital fund SAVP.

Greenhill & Co. has committed $11 million of the capital raised, and the company’s top executives contributed another $20 million. The remainder was raised from a variety of institutional investors.

Greenhill, which was founded ten years ago by former Morgan Stanley investment banker Robert Greenhill, has grown in value since it went public in May 2004. The company’s market value has shot up from $615 million to $2 billion since then.