Time Out owner Oakley Capital, the private equity firm headed by entrepreneur Peter Dubens, has raised its largest ever fund raking in a total of €800m (£710m).
Closing above its original limit of €750m, Oakley's third fund has already invested in five companies across Europe and has spent 40 per cent of its money.
A hefty five per cent of the €800m was donated by entrepreneurs and founders which Oakley has previously backed, a novel move which Dubens said demonstrates “their belief in our entrepreneurial approach to engaging with investors”.
“It also gives a good angle in terms of sourcing deals,” said Oakley partner Rebecca Gibson. “These investors provide a powerful source of origination because they are ambitious, talented people who have great ideas for new deals or operate in a network of other entrepreneurs.”
At the rate that Oakley is deploying cash, this seems to be paying off. Already the fund has invested in German tuition company Schülerhilfe, Canadian patent and technology firm TechInsights, Swiss software business Plesk, online property group Casa.it and atHome.lu and education business Amos.
“We've had a strong pipeline, and the deals we've been doing are the culmination of months – if not years – of hard work,” said Gibson.
She explained that, although Oakley does still look at investments in the UK, continental Europe is proving increasingly fruitful for the types of deal which the firm looks at. These are ideally off-market opportunities where the company is owned by the founder, or a carve-out where the business needs untangling from its parent.
This tactic, Gibson explained, can help to keep prices low in a market where investors are paying increasingly high prices for assets.
“To date we've been able to continue our track record of finding great businesses that are maybe in messy processes, and perhaps require a fairly complex carve-out procedure,” she said. “So even though the underlying business is really high quality, it takes a bit of work to unpick that and you can acquire it at a lower price.”
Three quarters of institutional investors from Oakley's previous fund decided to join in the latest fundraise, while Oakley's Aim-listed fund which is open to retail investors stumped up €326m.