Advent Gears Up For Biggest Fund Yet

Advent International, a Boston-based firm known for its global focus, is gearing up to start formally raising its seventh private equity fund, Advent International Global Private Equity VII LP, a behemoth targeting $9.4 billion that will be invested across a variety of geographies and industries, according to several press reports and sister publication, Buyouts.

An outside spokesman for Advent declined to comment, citing SEC regulations.

The firm’s most recent fund to close was its Advent International Latin America Private Equity Fund V, which raised nearly $1.65 billion and closed in 2010. The Washington State Investment Board invested $100 million in the fund, which invests across Latin America, with its largest concentration of investments in Brazil.

The previous fund in the Global Private Equity series, Fund VI, closed in 2008, having raised $8.7 billion. That fund has generated a net IRR of 5 percent, and a 1.1x return multiple as of last Sept. 30, according to Washington State data. Washington invested $137 million in that fund. Moderate performance in the firm’s most recent funds may reflect, in part, the rush of private equity firms into hot markets such as Brazil and China, where valuations of target firms have got bid up.

That said, Advent—with its global focus—has no choice but to double down in markets most often seen by large investors as regions they simply must invest in. The heavier emphasis on emerging markets reflects, in part, not only the faster growth of these regions, but also the increasing difficulty of getting even moderate growth in developed regions—such as Europe and the United States—which have suffered from even slower growth rates because of the financial crisis.

As part of Advent International’s move even more into emerging markets, the firm has recently opened offices in Columbia and Turkey.

But Advent, which is based in North America, still invests in its home country. The firm announced in February that it and Goldman Sachs’s private equity unit had agreed to buy TransUnion, the consumer credit reporting company, for $3 billion. The firms made the deal with another private equity shop, Chicago-based Madison Dearborn Partners, and the city’s wealthy Pritzker family.

Advent invests in a wide variety of industries, including business and financial services, health care, retail and consumer, and technology, media and telecoms.