SGAM holds €80m first close of CEE fund

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has committed to the new vehicle, which will focus on mid-market companies in the Baltic countries, Central Europe and the Balkans.

Société Générale Asset Management Alternative Investments (SGAM AI), the private equity arm of French financial services group Société Générale, has held an €80 million ($96 million) first closing of a Central and Eastern European-focused fund.
The SGAM Eastern Europe fund received commitments from The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Société Générale prior to its first closing.
William Watson, chief investment officer for private equity Eastern and Central Europe at SGAM, told PEO the fund has a target of €150 million, which is expected to be reached by the end of the year. It will take control positions in companies with an enterprise value between €30 million and €100 million.
The new vehicle’s regional focus on the Baltic countries, Central Europe and the Balkans provides a number of opportunities, said Watson. “Central Europe today is very open to a wide variety of investment opportunities because of the speed of growth and development there and the potential to continue to integrate the economies with the rest of Western Europe,” he said.
Watson said the fund is expected to make 10 to 12 investments in total.
Watson was formerly a partner at Baring Corilius Private Equity, a CEE-focused private equity fund manager acquired by SGAM AI last month. The acquisition brought SGAM AI’s Central and Eastern European private equity team to 10, with offices in Warsaw, Budapest and Paris.
The new fundraising follows last November’s sale of Estonia-headquartered IT company Microlink, the last divestment from SGAM AI’s 1994-vintage Baltic Republics Fund. Its other CEE-focused vehicle, the SG Romania fund, closed on $42 million in 1997 and is now fully invested, having backed 18 companies. 
Launched in 1999, SGAM AI currently has €1.2 billon under management. SGAM Private Equity Eastern Europe has invested $150 million (€125 million) in over 35 companies since 1994, according to the firm.
SGAM AI held a €20 million first closing of its life sciences-focused venture capital fund, Specialised European Fund for Therapeutic Innovation (SEFTI) at the end of last week. The vehicle has a target of €50 million, and is expected to reach its hard cap by the end of 2006.