Atlantic Bridge venture capital fund to help firms in Ireland and Europe

Minister O'Keeffe launches €85m fund for new high-tech firms

Atlantic Bridge venture capital fund to help firms in Ireland and Europe get off the ground

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, Batt O'Keeffe TD, today [15th November] launched a new €85 million venture capital fund which will help high-tech firms in Ireland to get off the ground.

Venture capitalists provide risk capital for firms that would otherwise find it hard to raise collateral through traditional sources of finance.

The Atlantic Bridge II Fund, which is being supported under Enterprise Ireland's Seed and Venture Capital Programme 2007-2012, will focus on high-tech firms across Ireland and Europe with strong international growth prospects.

It is expected that the fund will complete a second closing in the coming months, bringing the total fund to €130 million.

The fund will be managed by Atlantic Bridge Partners which has €250 million under investment.

The team is expected to invest between €5 million and €20 million in each firm with a typical investment cycle of five to eight years.

The fund's backers are particularly interested in communications technology, semiconductor and software - sectors in which Atlantic Bridge already has a strong investment track record.

The fund is supported by leading institutional investors including Enterprise Ireland, European Investment Fund, Irish National Pensions Reserve Fund and a number of private investors.

Minister O'Keeffe described the new fund as a 'significant boost for Ireland's venture capital sector which is critical to developing scalable Irish firms'.

'The Atlantic Bridge II fund brings fresh capital to Ireland's venture capital industry, allowing innovative high-tech firms to leverage the power of new investors in scaling their businesses and creating jobs.

'To create a thriving high-value indigenous enterprise sector, we must develop our funding base and expose high-potential Irish firms to new networks of contacts across the world,' said Minister O'Keeffe.

The move follows the Taoiseach's announcement in July of Innovation Fund Ireland - a €500 million fund for enterprise development and job creation aimed at drawing top venture capitalists to Ireland.

'That fund enables entrepreneurs to co-invest with the Government in high-potential start-ups that can create high-quality jobs in key growth sectors of the economy,' said Minister O'Keeffe.

Brian Long, Atlantic Bridge General Partner, said: 'We are very pleased to be among the few European technology funds that have achieved a first close in the past 18 months in a very challenging financing environment.

'We see a lot of attractive investment opportunities from multiple sources in Ireland and Europe - many of which fit with our investment thesis and are available at historically attractive valuation levels.'

The chief executive of the European Investment Fund, Richard Pelly, said:
'We believe this is a crucial time to support the European technology sector because it is one of the drivers of economic growth and job creation.

'We are convinced that the Atlantic Bridge team is well positioned to deliver successful investments in this sector.'

ENDS

Editors' Notes
Under Enterprise Ireland's Seed and Venture Capital Programme 2007-2012, the Government invested €158 million, bringing to €600 million the total amount available to start-up, early-stage and development-stage businesses. This scheme was announced in May 2006 and it follows two previous similar programmes. Under the 1994-1999 programme, Enterprise Ireland committed €68 million, bringing the total investment to €129 million. Under the 2000-2006 programme, Enterprise Ireland committed €98 million, bringing the total investment to €408 million.

Atlantic Bridge Ventures is a private equity firm investing in middle-market technology assets across Europe with offices in Dublin and London. The firm directly manages and co-manages €250 million in late-stage venture capital, expansion capital and buy-out transactions. The Atlantic Bridge portfolio consists of firms in the communications technology, semiconductor and software sectors. Atlantic Bridge brings together a unique team of technology entrepreneurs, experienced managers, finance professionals and investment experts with over 100 years' international business experience. The team has worked in various capacities for the past 10 to 20 years, bringing a partnership approach to the firm and its investments. For information see www.abven.com.

The EIF is the European body specialised in small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) risk financing. It supports high-growth innovative SMEs by means of equity (venture capital and private equity) and guarantee instruments through a variety of financial institutions (venture and growth capital funds, banks and guarantee institutions). The EIF has a key role to play throughout the value chain of enterprise creation from the early stage of intellectual property development and licensing to mid and later-stage SMEs. The EIF fosters European Union objectives in support of innovation,
research and regional development, entrepreneurship, growth and job creation.

On December 31, 2009, EIF equity commitments amounted to €4.1 billion while its outstanding guarantee portfolio totalled €13.6 billion.

ENDS

Bernard Mallee
Special Adviser on Press and Communications
Minister Batt O'Keeffe TD
Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation
Kildare St
Dublin 2

Tel: +353 1 631 3944
Fax: +353 1 631 2828
Mobile: +353 87 9173022
Email: bernard.mallee@deti.ie