Big deal: Public investors help construct $160m fund

Atlantic Bridge has achieved a first close of its latest fund thanks to Enterprise Ireland, European Investment Fund, British Business Bank and Ireland Strategic Investment Fund.

Atlantic Bridge, a technology fund that currently has more than $450m under management, announced a first close of Atlantic Bridge III last week, a €140m ($160m) growth-equity-stage fund aimed at Ireland and Europe-based technology businesses.

The fund has attracted commitments from a host of public investors, namely Enterprise Ireland and Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, both operated by the Irish government, and the European Investment Bank’s European Investment Fund (EIF) as well as British Business Bank Investments, the commercial arm of UK government-owned economic development bank British Business Bank.

Several unnamed pension funds and bank seed fund investor AIB have also provided capital. Additionally, Atlantic Bridge and AIB have signed an agreement to make AIB the fund’s strategic banking partner.

The EIF made a €30m commitment to Atlantic Bridge III in 2014, while financial details about remaining investors could not be ascertained.

Atlantic Bridge III will be based in Dublin – where Atlantic Bridge operates one of its five offices, the others being in London, Silicon Valley, Beijing and Hong Kong – and will focus on sectors such as big data, cloud, augmented and virtual reality, robotics and the internet of things.

The fund is hoping to select 20 companies for investment and is already in the process of closing seven such deals, though further details have yet to be revealed. Potential investees need to be experiencing stable growth and ready to take on large foreign markets such as the US and China.

To date, Atlantic Bridge has led a total of more than €100m in investments in Ireland-based businesses. Its portfolio currently stands at more than 20 companies and the fund has realised 12 exits so far, with more than €1.7bn in proceeds.

Richard Bruton, Ireland’s minister for jobs, enterprise and innovation, said: “A key part of our jobs plans for the past five years has been increasing the level of funding available to fast-growing Irish companies, supporting more of them to create the jobs we need.

“Atlantic Bridge has been part of the suite of new funds that our plans have helped to deliver, and I have seen first hand how the previous funds have been successful in supporting high-potential fast-growing Irish companies to expand. I am delighted to welcome this important new fund.”

Kevin Sherry, executive director at Enterprise Ireland, added: “Enterprise Ireland has been an investment partner with Atlantic Bridge since 2004, and during that time they have continued to achieve significant returns for companies and investors. We are pleased to be on board again as partners of Atlantic Bridge III.”

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