Investors scramble into Permira fund

The aggressive private equity fund Permira has raked in €5bn (£3.5bn) in what it says is its largest and most rapid fund raising yet.

Investors were so keen to pour money into Permira's third pan-European fund that applications topped the maximum set for the fund by €750m and had to be scaled back, Permira said.

Charles Sherwood, the director in charge of the fund raising, said he could easily have attracted more money had he not closed the fund on 30 September. While early subscriptions were accepted in full, late comers saw their applications chopped in half. Investments by the fund will be typically between €50m and €500m.

Permira is currently locked in a bid battle for the department store chain Debenhams as leader of the Laragrove consortium. It is rumoured to have joined forces with the venture capital fund Apax to try to buy the retailer New Look and the marine telecoms company Inmarsat, although it will not confirm either deal. Debenhams, New Look and Inmarsat would all be paid for out of the new fund.

Permira jumped to prominence in the UK by backing the buyout of the former Sainsbury DIY offshoot Homebase and following up with deals such as the £23.4m buyout of the struggling health and fitness clubs chain Holmes Place and the acquisition of Travelodge and Little Chef from the catering group Compass. Investments in Europe include Seat, the Italian equivalent of Yellow Pages and the German spectacles manufacturer Rodenstock.

Mr Sherwood said: "We focus on what we call impact investing, changing the businesses we buy, improving the strategy and replacing management if appropriate."

Half the money for the new fund came from Europe and 38 per cent from North America. Pension funds accounted for 40 per cent.

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