Wednesday, March 23, 2016

UniCredit SpA and Anthemis Group launch €200M Fintech Fund named UniCredit Evo Investment Partnership

Milan, 23 March 2016UniCredit, one of the leading European commercial banks, and Anthemis Group, the leading financial services technology venture and advisory firm, today announced a new joint investment venture. UniCredit evo (equity venture opportunities) will be a dedicated initiative focused exclusively on identifying and investing in best-in-class financial technology startups. With an initial capital commitment of €200M from UniCredit, the initiative will target mid stage startups and follow-on investments in more mature and established FinTech businesses, as well as early stage digitally native financial services startups working on more pioneering solutions.

The investment partnership with Anthemis will help UniCredit to accelerate the digitalization of its banking group. UniCredit's aim is to collaborate with emerging players within the FinTech ecosystem and explore, sustain and develop cutting-edge technologies and solutions.

Through the investment partnership, UniCredit and Anthemis will cover the entire lifecycle of emerging FinTech companies, with a primary focus on Europe and North America. The initiative will span across the early startup ideas phase to maturity and apply to different fields of retail banking and consumer finance; investment and corporate banking; wealth and asset management; capital markets and trading; payments and financial data; technology and infrastructure.

The UniCredit Evo Investment Partnership will be directly supervised and managed by two dedicated governing bodies: a Management Board comprised of UniCredit and Anthemis representatives working together to identify the most relevant areas of focus, and an Investment Committee, composed of UniCredit and Anthemis representatives responsible for sourcing, evaluating and finalizing investment opportunities.

Within UniCredit, this joint venture will be led by the innovation team, under the remit of banking group Chief Operating Officer and Deputy General Manager Paolo Fiorentino. At Anthemis, Nadeem Shaikh, Founder and CEO of Anthemis Group, will oversee the partnership.

Mr Fiorentino noted: "Thanks to this partnership, we are ramping up our digital transformation, building a new business model to maximize the combined strengths of traditional market players and newcomers. As a bank we have the resources, financial expertise and large customer base that can complement startup innovation. This will in turn boost our digitalization, enabling us to better adapt to the ever-evolving needs of our customers. Today, Anthemis becomes a key partner on this journey. By leveraging their wide expertise, Anthemis will help us identify top class players and opportunities that will drive innovation and ultimately help us to better serve our customers."

Nadeem Shaikh, Founder and CEO of Anthemis Group said: "We are delighted to be putting all of the Anthemis assets - a powerful global ecosystem, deep strategic insight and extensive investment experience - to work in the Investment Partnership. UniCredit has proved to be a dynamic partner with a proud history of innovation, and this partnership will allow them unlock further potential in the realm of digitally native financial services."

Friday, March 11, 2016

Wise SGR closes its Wisequity IV Fund at hard cap of €215M

Milan, 11 March 2016 - Wise SGR's Board of Directors announced morning the closing of its Wisequity IV Fund for total commitments of €215M equating to the hard cap of the Fund.

The fundraising was completed just in 6 months following strong demand from both existing and new investors. Italian institutional investors accounted for approximately 25% of the total commitments, while international investors, both from the US and Europe, represented 60% of total commitments, with the balance from the management team and HNWIs.

Wisequity IV will continue Wisequity III’s strategy targeting transformational investments in the Italian lower-mid market, with a particular focus on export oriented leaders in BtoB niches. Wisequity III, a 2011 vintage fund of €181.5M, is currently 84% invested across 8 portfolio companies. The fund’s DPI at 31 December 2015 was in excess of 90% following the first two portfolio exits in Q4/2015, generating over 4,5x gross MoC.

Wise SGR, winner of “Italian best LBO fund” at the 2015 Private Equity Exchange, is a fully independent Private Equity manager, which has been investing in the Italian lower mid-market since 2000. The management company is owned by its five partners who are all focused on generating, executing and building value in portfolio transactions, with the help of seven additional directors, making the Wise team one of the largest, both in terms of partners and total team members, in the Italian Private Equity arena. Wise SGR was advised by London based Rede Partners, a leading independent fundraising and secondary advisor to the private equity industry. Italian Law Firm Legance acted as principal legal counsel and Proskauer Rose LLP acted as international legal counsel.

Founded in 2000 by Paolo Gambarini and Michele Semenzano,  Wise SGR specializes in the management of Private Equity closed-end funds investing in small and medium sized companies, with a special focus on Italy.

Wise SGR S.p.A. (, founded in 2000 by Paolo Gambarini and Michele Semenzato, specializes in the management of Private Equity closed-end funds, investing in small and medium-sized companies, with a special focus on Italy. The funds managed by Wise are typically involved in leverage buy-out and capital increase transactions, dedicated to companies that are leaders in their niche markets. The two major objectives are to lead “build-up” transactions, in order to enhance competitiveness and profitability, and to push the international development. 

Wise SGR specializes in the management of Private Equity closed-end funds investing in small and medium-sized companies, with a special focus on Italy. Over the years, Wise SGR has achieved a unique position in Italy’s Private Equity sector thanks to its management approach that considers its role not only as a supplier of capital, but also as a solid partner with whom to develop and build-up the company in accordance with the requirements of the shareholders and the management.

The Wise SGR team provides support based on a variety of experience and knowledge acquired in the fields of strategic consultancy, investment banking and company management. The skills and know-how cover investment selection, assessment, negotiation and investment structure, as well as strategic and operating consulting services specific to the individual business.

Wise Funds invests in Italian small and medium-sized companies whit a sales turnover ranging between €20M and €100M. Special attention is given to the manufacturing and services market and to the sector of goods for manufacturing processes. Wise makes two main types of investments: Leveraged Buy Out (acquisition of majority holdings, via leverage) and Development Capital (subscriptions to increase capital stock in companies with high growth potential). The average investment size is €5M-€25M in terms of equity value, and €10M-€75M in terms of Enterprise Value.

Wise SGR which is owned by the management, received in June 2003 the authorization by the Bank of Italy to operate as a Management Company for pooled savings. Wise SGR currently manages two private equity funds: 
  • Wisequity II & Macchine Italia (2005) that with over €170M commitment closed the investment period in July 2010. The fund was launched in December 2005 by Wise Venture Sgr of which Banca Popolare di Milano became, along with De Agostini and Federmacchine (the national federation  of associations of manufacturers of capital goods), major investor. Banca Popolare di Milano subscribed via its private equity arm BPM Private Equity Sgr €40M in Wisequity II & Macchine Italia and after having received the needed regulatory authorizations it saw the integration between the two asset management companies, namely the merger of BPM Private Equity SGR into Wise Venture SGR. Bpm has been a shareholder in Wise sgr since September 2005 when Wise sgr acquired Banca Popolare di Milano’s private equity assets and incorporated the bank’s private equity firm, BPM Private Equity sgr. The deal also provided that Bpm committed €40M in Wisequity II Fund, becoming one of the sponsors of the fund together with gruppo De Agostini and Federmacchine (Federazione Nazionale delle associazioni di beni strumentali) - see here Bpm’s FY 2005 Consolidated Statement – Report of the directors at page 9 -. Banca Popolare di Milano sold its 20% stake in the shareholders capital of italian mid-market private equity firm Wise sgr  to Wise sgr’s managers who already held the remaining 80% stake. Wise SGR is now completely independent and controlled by its managers: Paolo Gambarini and Michele Semenzato own a 20% stake each; Valentina Franceschini and Stefano Ghetti own an 8% each; Fabrizio Medea and Roberto Saviane own a 14% each; while Wise sgr holds treasury shares for the remaining 16% of the capital.
  • Wisequity III (2010) - the third close-ended fund promoted by Wise SGR - which fundraising closed in September 2011 with over €180M commitment six investments in its portfolio, including Alpitour, Biolchim, Colcom Group, Primat, NTC-PH&T and Controls. The fund specializes in investments in expansion and middle market. The firm concentrates on Italian family-owned businesses experiencing succession issues, as well as on domestic firms within fragmented industries which would benefit from consolidation. It targets machinery, logistics, business services and media industries. It prefers to invest in generational transfer and on the processes of industrial merger and the strategies of geographic or product expansion. The fund seeks to invest between €8M and €30M in companies with sales between €20M and €80M and enterprise values from €20M to €50M.
The first fund of the Wise SGR, Wisequity I (2001) had over €100M commitment. Wise sgr is now fundraising for its first private debt fund focused on Italy's SMEs debt, called Wise Private Debt, which was launched in December 2013 by the management team and has a fundraising target of €250M It will mainly invest in senior bonds that will be allowed to be converted into equity when the issuer were to go into default. The bonds will be exempt from other guarantees, will have a duration of between 18 months and 5-6 years and will be issued for amounts ranging between €10M-€20M. The fund will run for seven years and the yield-target for investors, net of commissions and fees is more than 8%. The bonds, which will be issued by companies with an EBITDA of between €3M-€15M, will not be listed on a regulated market and will be unrated, but will directly Wise SGR to evaluate the creditworthiness of issuers on the basis of a rating model developed internally. it will be also Wise to always act as arranger for the structuring of transactions, so as to minimize the costs of issuing companies, which will be selected for the rest following the classic rules of the due diligence conducted by private equity firms.

The fund will remain in fundraising for 18 months, and after reaching the first closing at €50M it will start to invest. The new vehicle will not invest in companies in which Wise's private equity funds have invested or will invest in order to conflicts of interest.

Friday, February 19, 2016

United Ventures becomes SICAF authorized by Bankitalia: Closing at €70M

One of the first SICAF funds in Italy, following the introduction into the Italian legal order allowing the establishment of alternative closed investment funds in corporate form, has born. United Ventures obtained by the Bank of Italy on 17 February 2016 the authorization for the establishment of an asset management company, i.e. United Ventures One SpA to operate as hetero-managed venture capital SICAF (investment company with fixed capital) managed by United Ventures Spa, that as advisor of the holding, becomes asset management company authorized by Bankitalia and recognized as manager by EUVeCa.

 United Ventures, born as an investment holding company and turned into SICAF following the implementation of the AIFMD in Italy, was founded in 2013 by Paolo Gesess and Massimiliano Magrini respectively founders of JV Capital and Annapurna Ventures, the company had launched the fund raising in early 2013, thanks to the sponsorship of the Italian Investment Fund, which invested the first €10M, contributing for one third of the first closing held in March 2013 having reached €30M. In November 2014 it was announced the first closing at €60M. The company and makes early stage investments in Venture Capital, with a focus on digital technologies. Following the completion of the subscription of a capital increase that will occur in the coming days by leading institutional investors, its assets under management will amount to over €70M.

In its new role, the venture capital vehicle can continue to operate on the market as required by the new European Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD), which entered into force on 21 July 2011. The law introduced a number of measures to create a European internal market for alternative investment fund managers by defining a framework for the authorization, ongoing operation and transparency of the funds.

The transposition of legislation allows to United Ventures to operate in an international market positioning itself as a leading player by raising capital from both Italian and foreign investors because it is subject to an international legislation that equalizes and unifies all the other European players in the sector.

For Italy it is a significant change because it marks the introduction of a new investment vehicle model alongside that of SGR (asset management company) and the classic Club deal (private savers communities that invest using ad-hoc platforms).

The authorization process that ended with the authorization given by the Bank of Italy to United Ventures also enhances the work of internationalization that the fund management company, United Ventures Spa, has so far constructed by raising €70M in capital and investing in 16 companies (including Appsbuilder, Badseed, BuzzMyVideos, Cloud4Wi, FaceIt, Halldis, Kuldat, 20Lines, Marinanow, Meritocracy, Moneyfarm, Musixmatch, Paperlit and Lovethesign) that starting from Italy are able to operate globally. Investment targets are companies based in Italy but also in the rest of Europe operating in the areas of digital technologies, software, mobile, e-commerce and gaming.

The goal of United Ventures is indeed to support active entrepreneurs in the software industry and digital technologies in the growth and internationalization process, operating in the world's major technological ecosystems thanks to a network of co-investors located in global innovation centers.

Studio Craca Di Carlo Guffanti Pisapia Tatozzi & Associates (5Lex) has assisted United Ventures in obtaining authorization. The team was led by Francesco Di Carlo and composed of Giorgio Bobba.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Smartika completes €4.52M capital increase led and structured by Hamilton Ventures

Milan, January 29, 2016 - The italian Social Lending platform Smartika has announced a capital increase of €4.52M. The deal, already approved by the Bank of Italy, has been coordinated and structured by London-based Hamilton Ventures, a merchant banking boutique focused on investment in Tech and FinTech sectors and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
The new resources will be used for investments necessary for growth and to consolidate the leadership of
Smartika in the Peer to Peer Lending in Italy, the alternative way to borrow and lend money between individuals.
"New forms of economy and finance, based on the combination of Internet-sharing, are taking place in our country and, at a time where personal loans amount to €25 billion, of which €1.3 billion is granted online, thinking that the total throughput of the private loans will expand in the next 2-3 years to €300M is more than realistic" said Maurizio Sella, Chairman of
The capital increase was also the occasion for the definition and formalization of the new Governance of Smartika:
Maurizio Sella as Founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Luciano Manzo as CEO.Directors: Tommaso Pompei, Gustavo Perrotta, Pierluigi Loy Donà, Stephen Andrew Fitch, Pierpaolo Guzzo.
"The new resources that Smartika will benefit from, thanks to this important capital increase" adds CEO Luciano Manzo "are intended to strengthen the leadership of our platform for
private loans thus strengthening its organizational structure, in particular by strengthening the IT, the Credit, Communications and Marketing departments. "
"A very interesting and certainly 'disruptive' reality in the financial sector, with a management team with proven experience. With great enthusiasm, we stand alongside a company in constant growth and with important perspectives, "said Gustavo Perrotta, CEO of
Hamilton Ventures. 
Smartika announces so the beginning of a new course, which aims to disseminate and promote in Italy the culture of Social Lending, i.e. a step towards abandoning traditional forms of intermediation and in pursuit of greater efficiency and convenience for all parties involved .
Smartika SpA Spa, a company founded in 2012 with headquarters in Milan, works in Social Lending as a Payment Institution regulated and supervised by the Bank of Italy, as financial operator authorized pursuant to Legislative Decree no. 11/2010 to provide payment services, disbursed on education of providers and the applicants.
Hamilton Venture Capital Ltd ("Hamilton Ventures"), founded in 2009 and based in London, is an independent merchant banking boutique active mainly in the Technology and FinTech space. The company, regulated by the FCA, is led by Gustavo Perrotta and Sir Peter Middleton and offers privileged access to investment opportunities internationally.More information about it on

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Faceit raises $15M in Series A Funding Round from Anthos Capital, Index Ventures and United Ventures.

Faceit, a British startup that operates an online multiplayer platform, has closed a  $15M Series A funding round and is now aiming to expand in the United States.

Backers include Anthos Capital (Menlo Park, CA), Index Ventures (San Francisco, CA) and United Ventures (Milan, Italy) arriving after Faceit raised $2M last year from United Ventures. The company said it will use the investment to expand its team and continue to improve the technology and platform.
Faceit this month has opened an office in Los Angeles, aiming to achieve partnerships with developers, publishers and other partners based in America.

Founded in London in 2012 and led by CEO Niccolò Maisto, COO Michele Attinasi and Alessandro AVallone Chief Gaming Officer, Faceit is an online gaming platform allowing players to participate in tournaments and leagues with prizes through match making and management of automated tournaments. Its active users compete in at least 3 or more games per day. For developers the company offers a software development kit (SDK) to integrate into matchmaking and tournaments of their titles to allow players of all levels to participate in the competitive online gameThe company claims to have over 3.5 million gamers on its eSports platform. 

"With these investments, we will be able to achieve three major objectives for the platform: a strong community for competitive players and organizers, easy deployment for developers and for the personalization of the brands linked to products and services" Niccolo Maisto, founder and CEO of FaceIt says announcing investments.

Last year Faceit worked with several partners of the ecosystem of eSports, including Twitch of Amazon, Valve and Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting and WME/IMG, which formed its online-gaming league, ELeague, and plans to broadcast it on TV.

"Faceit has demonstrated the ability to build successful partnerships with publishers, large media companies and other leaders in the field." Index Ventures partner Ben Holmes, said in a statement.

Friday, January 22, 2016

D-Eye raises €1.5M in Venture Funding from Innogest, Invitalia Ventures and the Cottino Foundation

InnogestInvitalia Ventures, Foundation Cottino, with Si14, the current shareholder of the company and managers, have invested €1.5M in D-Eye, a Padua, Italy-based startup that has developed a patented optical device, compatible with most of the smartphones on the market, which allows the examination of the retina using the camera and the lighting system where each device is already equipped.

Born thanks to the intuition of ophthalmologist Andrea RussoD-Eye is proposed as a platform to revolutionize screening of retina diseases and the follow-up of millions of patients affected by chronic pathologies, making it possible to track, sharing and the compare retinal images collected through a simple smartphone equipped with the optical D-Eye. In addition to the device developed, the D-Eye solution provides the use of a proprietary app and a cloud platform through which the user can manage its own database of images according to the standards of HIPAA security and access sharing services and analysis of the same.

With this solution, D-Eye aims to position itself as a benchmark in the market for ophthalmic diseases - from the Age-Related Macular Degeneration (Macular Degeneration), whose treatment costs each year more than six billion dollars worldwide - a sector hunting innovation at the service of screening, access to care, quality and adequacy of follow-up.

In 2015, with the support of engineering pole Si14 of Padua, the company completed the development of the hardware and initiated the creation of the cloud platform through which services will be provided in support of doctors and patients. The introduction in the next few months of the cloud technology enables complete the D-Eye solution made up today by the device and the app, already bought and tested by over a thousand of doctors worldwide, making it an indispensable tool for professionals who deal daily with illnesses of the retina.

To lead the company is CEO Richard Sill, who has an extensive experience in the corporate sector such as Bausch&Lomb, and later co-founder and CEO of Magellan, one of the first companies to realize GPS satellite navigation dedicated to the consumer market. The operations and research center of D-Eye is based in Italy, Padua, while the commercial and business development are located in the United States, in close contact with the strong demand for innovation in the industry, and numerous clinical studies will be brought out in collaboration with research centers and universities around the world.

D-Eye is the first investment of the Italian Venture I Fund and reflects the fund mission to focus on startups that have a major positive impact on the lives of people and the ambition to grow internationally. The intersection between digital and health is one of the key areas where Italian innovation has the opportunity to express large-scale projects. D-Eye has the potential to play this game. 

The market which the D-eye solution addresses is not a niche, as it target itself as a complement to all the other tools already present in clinical ophthalmology and its flexible nature ensures applications also in other contexts. The potentials of doing business that D-Eye looks at translate it into the target (certainly ambitious) to become a benchmark in the field of ophthalmic diseases, starting with macular degeneration, a chronic disease of the retina, whose treatment costs globally more than six billion dollars a year and that in Italy is worth between 400 and 500 million Euros.
The immediate challenge is to integrate mobile services D-Eye in routine activities of all those involved: patients, doctors, health workers, optometrists, pharmaceutical companies and even insurance and bodies public reimbursement. The second step is to make the solution a screening platform and remote monitoring that can also be used in other fields of medicine, from the dermatological to that otorhinolaryngological one. The D-Eye technology, in this sense, allows tracking and sharing of images generated by smartphones through an app (already purchased and tested for over a thousand doctors worldwide) and a cloud system that enable the 'access and analysis of data collected in a dedicated database. In the coming years new financing round are to be expected.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Get Your Bill receives €390k Seed Funding from Aldabra Capital and Italian Angels for Growth (IAG): valuation at €1.9M

Two investors support the start-up company from Udine (Italy) Get Your Bill, the invoicing software using the POS terminal, receives a financing of €390.000 and is valued at €1.9 million Objective: expand across the Italian market. Many advantages for all stakeholders in the value chain.
Udine, January 12, 2016 - Ultroneo, the start-up company that created Get Your Bill, has attracted its first investors. The software enabling the issuing  of invoices through the POS terminal has obtained the support of a group of members Italian Angels for Growth (IAG), the main business angel group in Italy,  and of Aldabra Capital: the 2 entities have invested jointly €390,000 for 20,7% of the shares, valuing the company at €1,900,000. A very encouraging result for a company born in 2014 and active in the busy world of the payments industry. Get Your Bill led by Alvise Abù-Khalil, - President of Ultroneo - uses the standard POS terminal of the merchant, identifies the buyer through his payment card and collects from a database in cloud, in just a couple of seconds, the necessary information for the preparation of an invoice: company name, address, VAT number...The application sits on the POS next to the payment application and is compliant with the EMV security requirements. Get Your Bill, also offers a centralized archive of invoices to enable an easier administration”.
The entry of the Business Angels of (IAG) and Aldabra Capital enables Ultroneo to realize its IT plan, which will enrich the basis version of the platform with new functionalities, as well as the marketing plan that will drive Ultroneo into the leadership on the Italian market. Carlo Asquini, the representative of IAG, who has  strongly supported the investment and Renato Giacobbo Scavo, the CEO of Aldabra and expert of financial services, have both expressed their satisfaction.
“The commercialization of the service has started in October – tells Nicolas Ancot, the Marketing Director of Ultroneo with an important experience at Visa - and the business model is designed in a way that it is the  acquiring bank that sells the service to its merchant.
Initially supported by the incubator Technoseed of  Friuli Innovazione - the research and technology transfer center of the region Friuli Venezia Giulia -, Ultroneo has already signed agreements with Consorzio Triveneto (supplier in payments services for various banks among which Banca Popolare di Vicenza and Monte dei Paschi di Siena) and Easy Nolo (payments operator for Banca Sella). Agreements with the other Italian payments operators are well advanced.” Get Your Bill offers advantages to all users of its service and to all actors in the invoicing value chain:
  • The buyer: tax savings (possibility to deduct more invoices and recover VAT on them, even for smaller amounts), speed (no more queues at the cash register), simplicity (all invoices available in cloud, for an easier and more automated administration), security (secure archive of the invoices), access (through smartphone or any other device).
  • The merchant: simplicity (no more queues and waste of time at the cash register for invoices, all invoices available in cloud for an easier and more automated administration), advantageous (possibility to make the customer loyal through a service that is both useful and free).
  • The banks and payment schemes: the possibility to offer Value Added Services to more merchants and customers, enabling thereby the use of electronic payments.
  • The accountants: simplification of all the accountancy, through a system in cloud that is simple, secure, fast and structured.
Ultroneo s.r.l. is an Italian innovative start-up. Founded in 2014, the company is partly owned by a spin-off of Udine University. The company mission is the creation of innovative services, in Italy and abroad, capable of adding value to the payment transactions. Get Your Bill, the fast lane for your invoice, is the first service to be proposed by Ultroneo s.r.l. and is a registered mark.

Aldabra Capital operates since 2011 as a financing holding for innovative startups for early stage investments. Its industries of reference are electronic payments (2 investments), digital transformation (3 investments), data management (2 investments) and hi-tech (2 investments). The management team of Aldabra supports the start-ups in a very direct and operational way, leveraging on its experience, its network and various professional services (legal, marketing and management control).

Italian Angels for Growth (IAG) is the major angel group in Italy. It was founded by nine business angels in 2007 and has today more than 120 partners representing one of the most solid associations of European angel investing.
IAG has developed through its partners and the involvement of other operators, investments in  venture capital for about €24M divided into 43 rounds of investment.
IAG partners have contributed to the birth and growth of 28 innovative ventures, excellence in research, technological development and entrepreneurial Italian spirit including  Angiodroid, Agroils, Biogenera, Cellply, Drexcode, Eugea, GreenBone, GipStech, Inventia, Lovli, Margherita Fingerguard, Musement, Ohikia, ProxToMe, Qurami, SediciDodici, Spreaker, Winmedical.