Friday, February 27, 2004

Investment firm puts together venture fund



By James McNair
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Fort Washington Capital Partners, an investment arm of Western & Southern Financial Group, is launching another fund of up to $200 million to invest in venture capital funds around the country.

The fund, Fort Washington Private Equity Investors IV, will be the fifth of its kind from the company and is shooting for $100 million to $200 million by the time the offering closes in early 2005. Fort Washington Capital Partners manages about $500 million through four funds, the last of which was its $60 million WSL Partners, which closed Wednesday.

Gus Long, managing partner of Fort Washington Capital Partners, would not disclose the amount sought for the latest fund. The last two in the series, he said, raised $245.2 million and $141.3 million.

"It will not be dissimilar in size to previous funds of the same strategy," Long said.

The Fort Washington funds vary from other Greater Cincinnati equity funds in that they invest in other funds rather than in companies. Fort Washington invests the money for so-called "accredited" investors along with money from institutions and its parent company.

Long said the launch of another fund reflects the firming up of stock prices and capital spending. Investors in venture capital funds depend on "exit strategies" of initial public offerings or corporate buyouts to make money. Still, Long said, sophisticated investors take positions with a long-term view.

"But there are institutional investors, for whom things got painful from a return standpoint, who are returning as the picture started to brighten," he said.

Fort Washington Capital Partners invests in funds representing a cross-section of industries, geographic regions and company life stages. Only one of its funds, the Tri-State Growth Capital Fund, focuses on funds in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

E-mail jmcnair@enquirer.com




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