Permira, the London-based pan-European private equity fund manager, has announced plans to open an office in Stockholm to step up its presence in the Nordic Region.
Kurt Björklund, who has been a partner at Permira since 1996, is to head up the Stockholm office. Björklund will be working alongside Ole Oftedal, who joins Permira as industrial partner. Oftedal has run Swedish tour operator Fritidsresor and Adcore, a management consultancy.
Also part of the team are Peter Moller, formerly of Goldman Sachs, and Risto Siironen, who prior to joining Permira worked for Boston Consulting Group. There are no immediate plans to bring in more resource, although Björklund said Permira would look at the question of recruitment some time towards the end of 2003.
Permira’s decision to step up its investment effort in the Nordic Region, Europe’s fourth largest private equity market, comes ahead of a new fundraising campaign to be launched later this year. The firm, which as Schroder Ventures has been investing in buyouts since 1985, is currently investing its European Fund II, which it closed in October 2000 at E3.5bn.
In Scandinavia, Permira will be seeking to invest in leveraged buyouts with transaction values between E100m and E3bn. The firm will be competing with the three large local players, Industri Kapital, EQT and Nordic Capital, as well as a number of local houses including Procuritas Partners and CapMan.
Several international private equity houses are also active in the region, including Doughty Hanson and CVC Capital Partners, which both have offices in Stockholm. BC Partners, Apax Partners and Texas Pacific Group have also invested in Scandinavia.
According to Björklund, Permira will be looking to apply its expertise in sectors such as retail, chemicals, media and communications to selectively invest in Nordic companies. “Our strategy is going to be very much in line with Permira’s investment principles. We’re not opening the office to grab market share”, said Björklund.
Setting up in Stockholm was a practical decision taken by Permira, Björklund added, citing geography and the city’s existing financial infrastructure as reasons for the firm’s choice.
However, Sweden is Scandinavia’s most established private equity market, where according to Björklund “many of the deals that should have been done have been done. In Denmark and Norway, private equity is still a largely unknown phenomenon, and many family or trust-controlled companies, public or private, are going to be sold in the next ten years, which we think is going to be very interesting.”
Permira’s most high profile Nordic engagement to date has been the E135m acquisition of AU-System, a software company sold by Ericsson in 1999. At the time of Permira acquiring a 75 per cent stake, AU-System operated through four distinct companies. Two of these, iD2 and Across Wireless were sold to Sonera, and in June 2000 AU-System was floated on the Swedish Stock Exchange.
In 2000, Permira invested in Speed Ventures, an internet incubator which has since been sold in exchange for shares in Ledstjernen, a public company.