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. (www.wisesgr.it), 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.

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