New CEE mezzanine firm launched

Syntaxis Capital has been launched by a trio of former Mezzanine Management executives with the backing of UK-based mezzanine investor Indigo Capital.

Syntaxis Capital, a mezzanine capital start-up with offices in Vienna and Warsaw, has been launched by three founding partners: Ben Edwards, Thomas Spring and Przemek Szczepanski.

The trio were all formerly members of Accession Mezzanine Capital (AMC), a Central European fund managed by Mezzanine Management, which they left during the autumn of 2005. Edwards was a founding member of AMC, having joined Mezzanine Management in 1988, shortly after its formation. 

London-based Indigo Capital, which is currently investing its €475 million fourth fund, has entered into a strategic alliance with Syntaxis and has taken a minority stake in the company. In an interview with PEO, Edwards said Indigo and Syntaxis executives would “hunt as a pack” in the CEE region, working together to develop investment opportunities and implement investments.

Ultimately…you can expect that there will be a fund under the Syntaxis brand

Ben Edwards, founding partner, Syntaxis Capital

Edwards pointed to the confidential nature of the agreement struck with Indigo, but said it enables the firm to be working on transactions and to fund investments “immediately”. “Ultimately,” he said, “you can expect that there will be a fund under the Syntaxis brand.”    

Edwards continued: “We’ve known the Indigo team since the very early days of mezzanine investment in Europe. I was a team member at Mezzanine Management in its early days, and we’ve worked together on deals in the past.”

Edwards said Syntaxis was currently meeting equity houses and banks in the region “to let them know we’re here and to explain what we’ll do and how we’ll work”. He said the firm has meetings planned in Warsaw, Budapest, Prague and London over the next four weeks.

Syntaxis will, said Edwards, be “firmly positioned in the CEE mid-market”, which will place it in the same space as the likes of AMC and Darby. In his view, the CEE mezzanine market today is similar to that in Western Europe in the early 90s, and he expects the demand for mezzanine from traditional “buy to hold” investors to increase “substantially” going forward.  

AMC, which has a seven-strong investment team in the region, was the first Central European mezzanine fund raised specifically for investment in the region. The fund closed on  €115 million ($137 million) in July 2003. In December last year, AMC appointed Chris Buckle as a managing director responsible for investments and portfolio management in Vienna.

Indigo Capital, which has offices in London and Paris, was formed in 1999 by four former directors of investment bank Kleinwort Benson, who had together managed a series of mezzanine funds since 1989.