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New early-stage Australian venture fund holds first close on A$100m

Southern Cross, an Australian venture capital firm that was established only at the start of the year, has held a first close for an early-stage technology fund on A$100 million.

Southern Cross Venture Partners, founded at the beginning of 2006 by three Australia-based directors and one Sillicon Valley-based director, has launched an A$200 million ($151m; €119m) fund to focus on early-stage investments in Australia.

Gerard Reilly, a spokesman for Southern Cross said the fund is expected to reach its target by the end of the year and has just held its first close on A$100 million. It has drawn strong support from Australian institutional investors including Macquarie Fund Management, a fund-of-funds manager.

The venture capital firm is close to completing its first investment.

Bob Christiansen, a managing director of Southern Cross, said: “The fallout from the tech bust saw investors move toward more conservative later-stage investments, but the time is now ripe for early-stage investing as a new stream of experienced entrepreneurs and interesting innovations emerge.”

Christiansen has more than 10 years of experience in early stage venture capital, and before he became a venture capitalist, had a 20-year career in both large international and small entrepreneurial companies in the US and Europe. He was most recently a fund manager at Allen & Bukeridge, an Australia-based venture capital firm with a Sillicon Valley office, where he led investments over three funds raised since 1997.
 
Christiansen said: “Our experience shows that the Australian early-stage market is grossly undercapitalised with not enough capital to support the qualified deal-flow for at least the next four to five years. This in turn presents terrific opportunities for the Fund to access the best deals at very attractive prices.”

Southern Cross was founded by Christiansen, John Scull, a member of Allen & Buckeridge’s investment committee, Bill Bartee, a venture investor who has worked at Macquarie Technology Venture, and Gareth Dando, who has been an early-stage venture capitalist for six years.