New Italian PE fund launched

Italian bank Unicredit Banca d’Impresa has launched a €100m SME fund that will be managed by private equity firm 21 Investimenti.

Verona-based Unicredit Banca d’Impresa (UBI), a subsidiary of Italian banking group UniCredito, has announced the formation of a new private equity fund dedicated to investing in small and medium sized Italian companies.

The €100 million ($123 million) Idea Industria Fund will be managed by 21 Partners SGR, a division of Italian private equity firm 21 Investimenti, to avoid any potential conflicts of interest for the bank.

The fund was set up to provide the bank’s customers with the chance to participate in private equity opportunities. Of the €100 million allotted by UBI, €99.5 million was immediately subscribed, according to Italian press reports.

The fund will take minority stakes in small and medium sized Italian companies across all sectors and has a lifespan of 12 years.

21 Investimenti was set up as a merchant bank by Alessandro Benetton in 1993. Shareholders in the business include Banco Ambrosiano Veneto, insurance company Assicurazioni Generali, Edizioni Holding, the investment trust of the Benetton family and Banca Intesa.

21 Investimenti claims to have participated in the raising of funds worth more than €1 billion since its inception. The firm currently manages five private equity funds, including the Italian-based €75 million 2002 Giada Equity Fund.

Three of the funds are managed through the firm’s France branch, 21 Centrale Partners, including its latest expansion capital fund 21 Développement 2, which closed on €100 million in December 2003.