Investors flee UK to rompt AAC pull-out

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The Independent Online

The former private equity business of ABN Amro has abandoned a £300m fundraising drive in a signal that investors have turned their backs on the UK buyout industry. AAC Capital Partners, which was best known for once owning the British arm of restaurant chain TGI Friday's, is now likely to wind-down the UK business over the next five years.

AAC's Dutch and Nordic teams are likely to continue their own fundraising plans but an industry source said: "They went through a soft fundraising process to take the temperature with potential investors, but the message from those institutions seemed to be that they are reducing their commitments to UK mid-market private equity."

Initially backed by a number of investors including Goldman Sachs, AAC broke free of Dutch parent ABN when the Dutch bank was controversially sold to Royal Bank of Scotland in 2007. AAC UK decided to look into starting a new fund of between £200m and £300m as it had invested most of the capital it raised five years ago.

Since 2000, the UK branch has invested £800m in 26companies and has sold 19 of them. The remaining portfolio include local authority andoutsourcing business NSLServices and Dunlop Aircraft tyres, which it bought in 2007 and 2010 respectively.

AAC sold its 60 per cent stake in TGI Friday's for £60m in 2010, having paid just £22m three years earlier.