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Unigestion plans launch of two private equity funds of funds

Unigestion, a privately owned asset manager with USD9bn of assets under management, including nearly USD2bn invested in private equity funds of funds, has announced plans to launch two

Unigestion, a privately owned asset manager with USD9bn of assets under management, including nearly USD2bn invested in private equity funds of funds, has announced plans to launch two further private equity funds of funds.

The first fund of funds planned for launch in the first quarter of 2009 is the Unigestion Secondary Opportunity Fund II which aims to take advantage of the sharp down-valuation in private equity assets and an increasing number of distressed sellers.

With discounts to Nav of 50 per cent and more available in the current environment, the fund seeks to exploit the potential for significant returns over the economic cycle. It will focus on small and mid-sized transactions facing limited competition and originating from distressed sellers with the aim of building a global portfolio based on an overweight exposure to buyouts.

The second fund of funds planned for launch in the second quarter of 2009 is the Unigestion Environmental Sustainability Fund of Funds which encompasses strategies that focus on alternative energies, efficient use of resources and pollution control across investment stages including venture capital, growth capital, and infrastructure.

The fund will seek to invest in the best ten to 12 underlying managers in the sustainability sector taking into account additional factors such as political and regulatory risks.

A committee associated with the fund comprises Bertrand Piccard, an aviator, explorer and United Nations goodwill ambassador, working on a new project, Solar Impulse, an aeroplane powered exclusively by solar energy; Andrea Papandreou, associate professor at the Department of Economics of the University of Athens and a member of the Greek Government Committee for Sustainable Development; and Serafino Iacono, an entrepreneur and founder or co-founder of several companies, especially in North and South America, including several companies in the bio fuel and windfarming segment.

Hanspeter Bader, managing director of Unigestion’s private equity activities, says: ‘We think these funds of funds offer superior potential over the longer term in very different ways. As we approach the ‘sweet spot’ of a highly cyclical market, the Secondary Opportunity Fund will be an opportunistic buyer of good assets from distressed seller based on a very careful analysis of the underlying companies’ characteristics such as debt structure and maturity, covenants and sustainable earnings levels. The Environmental Sustainability Fund will provide comprehensive but concentrated exposure to the environmental sustainability sector which we believe is a long term strategic opportunity for investors as it becomes a major driver of economic growth over the next decade.’

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