PE Week Wire — Friday, June 3

Random Ramblings

It is 9:53am, and I’ve just come to a horrifying conclusion: PE Week Wire columns should probably be written the previous evening, unless something particularly eventful happens in the morning. This realization is born of another two-plus hours of news gathering, as the private equity market – VC and LBO alike – is full of too much money completing too many deals (go back to the old paradigm, won’t you?). It’s not like I plan to sit at my desk late at night, since my ratty leather chair (my wife calls it the “Frazier chair”) in front of the television will do just fine, but it’s still quite disturbing. On the other hand, we do have some interns starting soon, and maybe I can persuade one of them to come into work early in exchange for coffee and bagel money. In the meantime, a few very quick notes:

*** If you’ve got some free time today, take a drive by the Waltham, Mass.-based office park that houses venerable VC firm Greylock Partners. Specifically, check out the giant billboard that says “Welcome to the Training Camp Home of IDG Ventures Boston.”

On Monday, IDG Ventures Boston will announce that David Aronoff is joining as its fourth general partner. Aronoff has spent the past nine years with Greylock, and hit some serious home runs with companies like SiTera (acquired by Vitesse Semiconductor in 2000 for $750 million in stock) and Xros Inc. (acquired by Nortel in 2000 for $3.35 billion in stock). He even made Forbes’ Midas List for the past two years at #73 (2004) and #99 (2005), although such lists always strike me as quantitative-tinted capriciousness. In short, he was being sought after by a number of firms, after making it clear that his entrepreneurial nature had caused him to become interested in joining a startup – or at least adolescent - venture firm.

Aronoff becomes the second IDG Ventures Boston partner to matriculate from Greylock U, following Chip Hazard in May 2002. Moreover, fellow IDG guy Jeff Bussgang co-founded Greylock portfolio company Upromise, and at one point was in talks to join the firm. Bill Helman, who has been with Greylock since 1984, says the parting with Aronoff is amicable, and that he isn’t surprised that certain partners leave to join younger firms. He is quick to point out, however, that Aronoff was Greylock’s fourth-oldest general partner, and that it has more than a few value-added qualities to keep other folks around (like legendary brand name, smart veteran VCs, etc.). Indeed, Aronoff will be a serious loss for Greylock, but so was Pedro Martinez for the Red Sox. In both cases, the former team will still manage to keep winning.

*** VCs often like to complain about the SEC, but maybe they’ll pipe down a bit now that industry ally Chris Cox has been nominated to replace the departing William Donaldson. Cox is a current Republican congressman from California, but began his career as a corporate attorney focused on venture capital in the Orange County office of Latham & Watkins. He authored 2003 legislation to make the ban on e-commerce taxes permanent, and has received $17,500 in campaign contributions from the National Venture Capital Association’s political action committee (VenturePAC) between 1998 and 2004.

No consensus yet on his chances. On its face, however, his biggest challenge will be in convincing Democrats that his pro-business background won’t preclude him from acting in the best interest of individual investors (his vote in favor of SarbOx will help in that effort). Republicans are almost certainly in his camp, as they are with every single one of President Bush’s nominations to everything. If I had to bet, expect a relatively smooth confirmation, particularly if Bush agrees to promote current SEC market-division director Annette Nazareth to replace the departing SEC Commissioner Harvey Goldschmid.

*** My colleague Lawrence Aragon passes on word that Champion Ventures (a.k.a. HRJ Capital) is raising its fourth fund-of-funds with a $150 million target. For those who don’t know, this is the group run by former San Francisco 49ers Harris Barton, Ronnie Lott and Joe Montana. I wonder if they’re pitching the fund via videotape?

    Top Three

 

ExiqonAS, a Danish biotech company, has raised $20 million in new venture capital funding. Teknoinvest led the deal, and was joined by Scandinavian Life Science Venture, Nobel Group, LD Pensions, BioFund and Danske Bank. Egiqon has raised $37 million in total VC funding since its 1996 inception. www.exiqon.com

Activant Solutions Holdings Inc., an Austin, Texas-based provider of business management solutions in the hardware, home center, lumber/building materials and automotive parts aftermarket sectors, has filed to raise $200 million via an IPO of common stock. It plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol ACVT, with JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank Securities serving as lead underwriters. Activant is owned by private equity firm Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst. www.activant.com

John Mack has joined Pequot Capital Management as chairman, and will focus on helping to expand the firm’s platform of hedge funds and private equity funds. Mack most recently served as CEO of Credit Suisse First Boston. www.pequotcapital.com

    VC Deals

Factory Logic Inc., an Austin, Texas-based provider of manufacturing management software, has raised $8 million in Series A-1 funding from Adams Capital Management, SAP Ventures and several unnamed individuals. www.factorylogic.com

Santur Corp., a Fremont, Calif.-based provider of source laser components for the telecom industry, has raised $16.6 million in Series C funding. Return backers include Menlo Ventures, Sequoia Capital, Thomas Weisel Venture Partners, VantagePoint Venture Partners and Lighthouse Capital. www.santurcorp.com

BlueArc Corp., a San Jose, Calif.-based provider of network storage systems, has raised $15 million in additional VC funding. Return backers Meritech Capital Partners and Crosslink Capital co-led the deal. BlueArc has raised $175 million in total private funding since its 1998 inception, from firms like Meritech, Crosslink, Apax Partners, Fort Washington Capital Partners, Dell Ventures, Weston Presidio and Interregnum PLC. www.bluearc.com

Lifeways Community Care Ltd., UK-based provider of community care services, has received an undisclosed amount of funding from Nomura Private Equity Group. www.lifeways.co.uk

Corrigo Inc., a Wilsonville, Ore.-based provider of service management solutions for maintenance and repair organizations, has raised $10 million in fourth-round funding. Sierra Ventures led the deal, and was joined by return backers Asset Management Co. and Sycamore Ventures. www.corrigo.com

Klir Technologies Inc., a Seattle-based provider of on-demand, real-time IT analytics applications, has raised $8.7 million in Series A funding. Ignition Venture Partners and MK Capital co-led the deal. www.klir.com

Tatara Systems Inc., an Acton, Mass.-based provider of converged mobile solutions for communications service providers, has raised $6 million in third-round funding from return backers Highland Capital Partners and North Bridge Venture Partners. Tatara has raised $23 million in total VC funding since its 2001 inception. www.tatarasystems.com

OnPrompt, a UK-based company focused on supply chain issues caused by incompatible formats and systems, has raised Gbp5 million in Series A funding from 3i Group and Benchmark Capital Europe.

Followcap Inc., a UK-based provider of presence and instant messaging solutions to the telecom industry, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series C funding. Sequoia Capital led the deal, and was joined by return backers Carmel Ventures, Star Ventures, ICTech and Koor CVC.

TheraDoc Inc., a Salt Lake City-based medical informatics company focused on clinical decision support, is raising $10.5 million in Series B funding, according to a regulatory filing. The filing reports that it already has secured at least $7.4 million. www.theradoc.com

Connecture Inc., an Atlanta-based provider of sales automation solutions for health insurance providers, has raised approximately $3.5 million in Series D-1 convertible preferred funding, according to a regulatory filing. Backers include Live Oak Equity Partners, SSM Ventures and Chrysalis Ventures. www.connecture.com

PeerFlix Inc., a Menlo Park, Calif.-based peer-to-peer service that allows members to legally trade DVDs, announced in March that it had raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding from 3i Group and BV Capital. According to a regulatory filing, the amount was $2.2 million. www.peerflix.com

Feedster Inc., a San Francisco-based online search engine and advertising network for blogs and RSS feeds, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding. Selby Venture Partners led the deal, and was joined by return backer Omidyar Network, members of New York Angels and various other angels like Kevin Hartz, co-founder of Xoom, Joe Kraus, co-founder of Excite and Jotspot, Josh Kopelman, founder of Half.com, Scott Kurnit, founder of About.com, Mark Pincus, founder of Tribe.net and Support.com and Narendra Rocherolle, founder of Webshots. www.feedster.com

    Buyout Deals

 

JPMorgan Partners has completed its sale of Crosstown Traders Inc. to Charming Shoppes Inc. (Nasdaq: CHRS). The deal is valued at approximately $218 million in cash, plus the assumption of Crosstown Traders’ debt. Crosstrown is a Tuscan, Ariz.-based direct marketer of women’s apparel, footwear and specialty gifts. www.charmingshoppes.com

HgCapital has agreed to sponsor a 78 million euros management buyout of Addison Software and Service GmbH, a Germany-based application software company focused on the tax accounting and SME markets. NIB Capital Bank will provide debt financing for the deal. www.hgcapital.com

The Carlyle Group is negotiating to join a consortium interested in the 6 billion euro privatization auction for Turkish telecom company Turk Telekomunikasyon, according to The Deal.

Hite Brewery Co. has signed a final contract to acquire South Korean distillery Jinro Ltd. for 3.41 trillion won (approx. $3.3 billion). Goldman Sachs led the auction, which reportedly included failed bids from JPMorgan Partners, CVC Capital Partners, Newbridge Capital and Affinity Capital. The Hite group also includes the Korean Teachers Mutual Fund, the Military Mutual Aid Association, the Korea Federation of Community Credit Cooperatives and Korea Development Bank’s private equity fund.

CVC Capital Partners is favored to win the auction for Ruhrgas Industries from German utility E.ON AG, according to Reuters. The offer is valued at approximately 1.3 billion euros, with Permira also interested in the company.

    PE-Backed IPOs

XenoPort Inc., a Santa Clara, Calif.-based biopharmaceutical company focused on drug absorption, priced five million shares at $10.50 per share, for a total IPO take of approximately $52.5 million. It originally filed to raise $86.25 million, but reduced its offering price from $14-$16 to $10.50. XenoPort will trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol XNPT, and Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank Securities served as lead underwriters for the IPO. The company had raised over $152 million in total VC funding since its 1999 inception, including a $25 million Series D round late last year at a post-money valuation of approximately $200 million. Significant shareholders include Venrock Associates, Skyline Ventures, ARCH Venture Partners and OrbiMed Advisors. www.xenoport.com

Rackable Systems Inc., a Milpitas, Calif.-based provider of high-density computer servers and high-capacity storage systems, reportedly has delayed its IPO pricing until next week. The company plans to offer 6.25 million common shares at between $11 and $13 per share, with Thomas Weisel Partners serving as lead underwriter. No reason was given for the delay. Parthenon Capital holds a 61.2% pre-IPO stake in the company. www.rackable.com

Esmertec AG, a Swiss provider of mobile telecom software, reportedly plans to go public in Switzerland in the next several weeks. Deutsche Bank AG and UBS Investment Bank will underwrite the IPO. Esmertec has raised VC funding from such firms as Sofinnova Partners, Partners Group, Invision, Earlybird Venture Capital and Credit Lyonnais. www.esmertec.com

    PE-Backed M&A

McAfee Inc. (NYSE: MFE) has acquired Wireless Security Corp., a Redwood City, Calif.-based provider of Wi-Fi security solutions for home and small business networks. No financial terms were disclosed. Wireless Security Corp. has raised VC funding from Alloy Ventures. www.mcafee.com www.wirelesssecuritycorp.com

PertnerTechABof Sweden has agreed to acquire KSH-Productor Oy, a Finland-based medical technology contract provider, for approximately 7 million euros. Sellers include venture capital firm Bio Fund Management. www.kshproductor.fi

Ericsson has acquired NetSpira Networks SL, a Spain-based provider of mobile wireless technologies. No financial terms were disclosed. NetSpira had been backed by Bullnet Capital. www.ericsson.com www.netspira.com

    Firm & Fund News

Global Vision AG Private Equity Partners of Germany is one month away from holding a final close on its sixth fund-of-funds, but already has made commitments to the following vehicles: Wellington Partners Ventures III, TVM Life Science Venture VI and Grainville Baird Capital Partners Fund VII. www.globalvision-ag.com

    Human Resources

David Aronoff has joined IDG Ventures Boston as the firm’s fourth general partner. He previously was a general partner with Greylock. www.idgventures.com

Robert O’Connell has been fired as chairman and CEO of MassMutual Financial Group. He will be replaced in the CEO role by Stuart Reese, who has been the company’s executive vice president and chief investment officer since 1999. No reason was given for the termination. www.massmutual.com

Edmond de Rothschild Capital Partners has hired four new professionals. They are: Herve Fonta, investment manager, previously worked at Chequers Capital; Antonio Graca, investment manager, previously worked with CDC Equity Capital; Bertrand Demesse, associate, previously worked in the M&A division of Banque Lazard; and Sylvie Verges, CFO, previously was CFO of Neuf Telecom. www.lcf-rothschild.fr

Scott Livingston has joined Axiom Capital Management as a managing director, after previously having worked with Lehman Brothers. He also was formed the Livingston Group to finance and advise nanotechnology companies and investors. www.axoimcapital.com

Nexit Ventures, a VC with offices in both Finland and Saratoga, Calif., has hired both Patrice Peyret and Michael Mandhal as venture partners. Peyret is co-founder and former CEO of Mobile365 Inc., while Mandhal most recently served as a venture partner with Sweden-based BrainHeart Capital. www.nexitventures.com

Highland Capital Partners, a Lexington, Mass.-based venture capital firm, has promoted Corey Mulloy to the position of general partner. He originally joined Highland as an associate in 1997, and later was promoted to principal. He focuses on early- and growth-stage opportunities in the healthcare sector, and sits on the boards of AccentCare, Archemix, Fidelis and Whole Body. www.hcp.com

Paul Capital Partners has made the following promotions: Clarke Futch and Jean-Pierre Naegeli from principal to partner within the Royalty team; Brian Sullivan from principal to partner in the Secondary team; Dan Mulderry to principal in the Secondary team. Paul Capital recently closed its eighth fund-of-funds with $650 million. www.paulcapital.com

Michael Gottschalk has joined Rothschild as a managing director and head of its I-banking consumer products group for North America. He previously spent three years with Lazard as a managing director focused on M&A in the consumer products and retail sectors. www.rothschild.com

Patrick Maciariello has joined The Compass Group as a vice president located in the firm’s Laguna Hills, Calif. office. He previously worked for both Bain & Co. and Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown. In other Compass Group news, the firm has promoted David Swanson to the position of principal. He has been a vice president. www.compassequity.com

THURSDAY, JUNE 2

Too Much News…

Putting together the news section took nearly three hours this morning (ugh), so no time to write a planned column on the way that certain LBO firms share – or more importantly, don’t share – transaction and monitoring fees with their limited partners (the folks who actually fund the funds). Let’s save that for tomorrow or Monday, since it will dovetail nicely with a related piece I wrote for Buyouts Magazine.

But you know that I don’t like leaving you empty-handed, so here’s a quick piece of unreported personnel news from the Boston VC community: Duane Mason has decided to retire from Prism Venture Partners, which he co-founded in 1996. Mason told me this morning that the decision was mostly based on age, and that he will continue to sit on at least some of his current portfolio company boards. As reported in this space a few months back, Prism is in the midst of raising its fifth fund, with a final close expected within the next month or two. Mason will formally serve as a special limited partner on that vehicle, and plans to maintain at least some of his portfolio company board seats.

    Top Three

 

Citrix Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS) has agreed to acquire NetScaler Inc., a San Jose, Calif.–based provider of application networking solutions. The deal is valued at approximately $300 million in cash and Citrix stock, plus the assumption of approximately $23 million in unvested stock options. It is expected to close in Q3. NetScaler has raised over $78 million in VC funding since its 1998 inception, including a $20 million Series F deal in early 2004 at a post-money valuation of approximately $135 million. Current shareholders include Gabriel Venture Partners, Focus Ventures, Bay Partners, Sequoia Capital, Goldman Sachs and Granite Global Ventures. www.citrix.com www.netscaler.com

Monster Worldwide Inc. (Nasdaq: MNST) has sold its Yellow Pages division to Audax Group. The deal is valued at $80 million, including $73 million in cash and a $7 million, seven-year promissory note with a 3% coupon. Monster’s Yellow Pages division was formerly known as TMP Worldwide Directional Marketing, and will now operate under the name Moving.com. It currently employs 790 people and produced 2004 revenue of approximately $88 million. www.monster.com www.audaxgroup.com

George Soros reportedly has joined one of the eight bids to acquire the Washington Nationals, a Major League Baseball club that formerly was known as the Montreal Expos (before moving to DC for the 2005 season). The consortium now includes Soros, private equity firm ABRY Partners, serial sports franchise owner Jonathan Ledecky and New York-based real estate developer Marc Cohen. Citigroup Private Bank and Game Plan LLC are serving as advisors to the group.

    VC Deals

ONStor Inc., a Los Gatos, Calif.-based provider of enterprise network attached storage (NAS) gateway solutions, has raised $24 million in Series D funding. ComVentures led the deal, and was joined by return backers Mayfield, Foundation Capital and Worldview Technology Partners. ONStor has raised $79 million in total VC funding since its 2000 inception. www.onstor.com

SuperDimension Ltd., an Israel-based developer of minimally-invasive diagnosis and treatment solutions for lung disease, has raised $27 million in Series B funding. OrbiMed Advisors led the deal, and was joined by fellow new backers CIBC World Markets and Pfizer Inc. Existing shareholders Oxford Bioscience Partners, Pitango Venture Capital, Medica Venture Partners and Mi3 also participated. www.superdimension.com

Nanoradio AB, a Sweden-based semiconductor company, has raised 9 million euros in VC funding. Participants included Nordic Venture Partners, Innovacom, Teknoinvest and Industrifonden. www.nanoradio.se

Tachyon Networks Inc., a Vienna, Va.-based single-source provider of satellite technology solutions and services, has raised $7.07 million in additional venture capital funding. West River Capital led the deal, and was joined by return backers like BV-Cornerstone Ventures and CEA Capital Partners. Tachyon Networks has raised over $90 million in total VC funding since its 1997 inception. www.tachyon.com

Global Locate Inc., a San Jose, Calif.-based developer of assisted global positioning system (A-GPS) products and services for wireless devices and networks, has received a “multi-million” dollar strategic investment from Siemens Venture Capital. According to a regulatory filing, Global Locate is in the midst of raising $25 million in Series D funding, although it is unclear if the Siemens deal is part of that round, or separate. www.globallocate.com www.siemensventurecapital.com

Yodel Inc. of San Francisco has raised approximately $800,000 in Series A funding from firms like Radar Partners and Blacksmith Ventures, according to a regulatory filing.

Fidelis Security Systems Inc., a Bethesda, Md.-based provider of network security solutions, has raised $4.1 million in Series A funding. Participants included Inflection Point Ventures, Ascent Venture Partners, the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development and WS Investment Co. www.fidelissecurity.com

Augmentix Corp., a Houston-based provider of commercial servers for mission-critical applications, has raised $8.59 million in second-round funding from Centennial Ventures and return backer Austin Ventures, according to a regulatory filing. www.augmentix.com

Oxlo Systems Inc., a Broomfield, Colo.-based provider of solutions for the automotive retail industry, has raised $5 million in VC funding. Participants included Wayport Ventures, Appian Ventures and Mobius Venture Capital. www.oxlo.com

    Buyout Deals

 

International Paper Co. (NYSE: IP) has completed the sale of its Industrial Papers business to private equity firm Kohlberg & Co. for $180 million. www.internationalpaper.com

Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe has completed its sale of Bellevue, Wash.-based software company Attachmate Corp. to Francisco Partners, Golden Gate Capital and Thoma Cressey Equity Partners. No financial terms were disclosed. Francisco, Golden Gate and Thoma Cressey acquired Attachmate competitor WRQ Inc. late last year, and is merging the two companies into a combined entity known as AttachmateWRQ. www.attachmate.com www.wrq.com

Carl Zeiss SMT AG has agreed to acquire Germany-based NaWoTec GmbH from an ownership consortium that includes Wellington Partners, Cipio Partners, Target Partners and Intel Capital. No financial terms were disclosed for the deal, which is expected to close during this quarter. NaWoTec was formed as a spinout from Deutsche Telekom in 2002, and focuses on nano-structuring technologies. www.nawotec.de www.smt.zeiss.com

Leeds Weld & Co. has acquired Miller Heiman Inc. from Gryphon Investors and Crosslink Capital. No financial terms were disclosed. Miller Heirman is a Reno, Nev.–based provider of sales-force effectiveness solutions. www.millerheiman.com

Repsol YPF, a Spain-based oil and gas company, said that b has joined its bid for Royal Dutch/Shell Group’s liquefied petroleum gas distribution and marketing business. The deal could be worth more than $2 billion.

CVC Capital Partners recently agreed to acquire Spanish clothing retailer Cortefiel SA for 1.4 billion euros, but may soon face competing bids from other private equity firms, according to published reports.

BC Partners has received EU approval for its proposed buyout of Sweden-based appliance maker Dometic International AB from EQT Partners. www.dometic.com

3i Group is sponsoring a Gbp40 million management buyout of UK-based luxury powerboat company Fairline, according to The Financial Times. www.fairline.com

    PE-Backed IPOs

Penrice Soda Holdings, an Australia-based provider of soda ash, is planning to go public next month in an Au$87 million IPO on the Australia Stock Exchange. Company shareholders include Colonial First State Private Equity and Quadrant Capital.

    PE-Backed M&A

TDK Corp. has acquired Amperex Technology Ltd., a Hong Kong-based maker of polymer lithium batteries, for approximately $100 million. Amperex has raised VC funding from such firms as The Carlyle Group, 3i Group and H&Q Asia Pacific, including a $30 million Series B round in 2003. www.tdk.co.jp www.atlbattery.com

Hercules Offshore LLC, a Houston-based portfolio company of Lime Rock Partners and Greenhill Capital Partners, has acquired a fleet of 17 lift-boats from Superior Energy Services Inc. No financial terms were disclosed.

Ikano Communications Inc., a Salt Lake City-based provider of private-label Internet services, has acquired the subscriber bases of two Texas-based ISPs from Morgan Publishing. They are CookeNet Internet Services, serving the Gainesville market, and CompuWise Internet Solutions, serving the Decatur market. No financial terms were disclosed. Ikano is backed by Insight Venture Partners. www.ikano.com www.cooke.net www.compuwise.net

CVI Laser Inc., an Albuquerque-based manufacturer of optical components, has acquired Optical Components Inc. of Covina, Calif. No financial terms were disclosed. CVI Laser has been a portfolio company of Norwest Equity Partners since May 2003. www.cvilaser.com www.ocioptics.com

ION Trading Systems Inc., an Ireland-based provider of software solutions for trading on electronic fixed-income markets, has acquired Aurora Software Inc., a New York-based provider of systems for U.S. treasuries, mortgages and options trading desks. No financial terms were disclosed. ION Trading is a portfolio company of TA Associates and Kairos Partners. www.iontrading.com www.aurora-inc.com

Danippon Screen Manufacturing Co. Ltd. of Japan has acquired Inca Digital Printers Ltd., a UK-based maker of wide-format inkjet printers, for Gbp30 million. Inca Digital had received VC funding from Advent Venture Partners. www.incadigital.com www.screen.co.jp

    Firm & Fund News

Escalate Capital’s first close on its inaugural fund was at $113 million, according to a regulatory filing. The Austin, Texas-based firm had not disclosed the amount in a recent statement. Limited partners include GM Pension Plan, The Meadows Foundation, Portfolio Advisors, Teachers’ Private Capital, UTIMCO and Verizon. www.escalatecapital.com

    Human Resources

Jeffrey Stein has joined Sofinnova Ventures as a venture partner and Kauffman Fellow. He will work focus on life sciences opportunities in the San Diego area. He most recently served as founder and chief scientific officer of Quorex Pharmaceuticals Inc., which was acquired by Pfizer Inc. last year. www.sofinnova.com

Steve Frederick has joined Grotech Capital Group as a vice president, according to VentureWire. He previously served as a general partner with Novak Biddle Venture Partners. www.grotech.com

David Baum has left the general partnership of Prism Venture Partners, where he is no longer listed on the firm’s website. www.prismventures.com

James Gorman has been named executive vice president and head of corporate acquisitions, strategy and research with Merrill Lynch. He previously served as president of the bank’s global private client group. That job now goes to Robert McCann, vice chairman of wealth management. Both moves become effective on June 8. www.ml.com

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 2

Texas(Finally) Gets It Right

It has been approximately 1,584 hours since this space last discussed private equity and public disclosure in the State of Texas, so it seems entirely appropriate that we revisit the matter this morning.

As a quick refresher, former Texas AG John Cornyn opined several years back that public institutions in Texas must disclose certain information about private equity funds in which they had made capital commitments, if so requested under the state’s Open Records law. Among the included info were fund names, commitment amounts, fund strategy (i.e., VC, LBO, etc.) and, most importantly, internal rates of return (IRRs). Underlying asset data, including portfolio company names and valuations, would remain off-limits to Joe Public’s eyes. The whole thing initially looked a bit problematic for groups like the University of Texas Investment Management Co. (UTIMCO), but soon became less so after similar moves in states like California and Colorado. In other words, no big deal, and Conryn’s successor Greg Abbott continued to follow the top-line/b! ottom-line disclosure demarcation policy.

All of that calm was suddenly converted into a maelstrom last fall, however, when Abbott argued for even greater transparency during a speech before a FOIA-friendly audience. His office told me that Abbott even would support the disclosure of portfolio company revenue figures. Moreover, the Austin-American Statesman’s editorial board kept egging Abbott on, with pieces that baselessly argued that plenty of private equity firms would still accept public Texan institutions as limited partners. Certain general partners began to gently panic. Texas State Sen. Robert Duncan and State Rep. Dan Gattis drafted some legislation to diffuse the situation, but their first try didn’t make the cut. Specifically, it listed 13 types of disclose-able data points, but said that requests for all other types of information would be up to Abbott’s discretion. Given the AG’s official statements, this was not the man that private equity firms wanted making any final decisions.

The most notable critic was Austin Ventures, which said that it would not allow public Texan institutions into its $525 million ninth fund, unless better legislation was made law. In other words, longtime Austin Ventures LPs like UTIMCO, the Teachers’ Retirement System of Texas and the Houston Police Officers’ Pension System would be shut out. AV also said that it planned to close its fund by the end of Q1, so it seemed extremely unlikely that Texas legislators could resolve the matter in time. In the meantime, AV began taking commitments from public institutions in states like Washington, Massachusetts, Virginia and Michigan.

Fast forward 1,584 hours, and the situation has changed dramatically. Duncan and Gattis reworked their bill to include a couple of extra disclose-able data points (there are now 16), but also made confidential any information not explicitly referred to in that list of 16. In other words, they removed the original clause about Abbott being able to determine confidentiality. Even better, they apparently did it in consultation with Abbott himself, who released a statement in support of the revised language. If passed, the new rule in Texas would be that anyone could get access to top-line data like IRRs, cash-in/cash-out and management fees (both dollar amounts and percentages), but not to sensitive underlying asset data.