Private Equity Week Wire for Wednesday 12/5

MENLO PARK, CA — Versant Ventures, an early- stage healthcare venture capital firm, announced today the closing of its $400-million Versant Venture Capital II fund, representing a significant increase over the firm’s initial $250-million fund. In addition, the firm announced the promotion of Camille Samuels Pearson to managing director.

With the second fund’s closing, total capital under management will reach more than $670 million. Versant Ventures will continue to concentrate on investments in early-stage healthcare companies in core areas of medical devices, biotechnology, specialty pharmaceuticals, healthcare services and healthcare information technology. Over the next three years, the firm’s managing directors plan to make initial investments in approximately 45 early- stage companies forging market leadership positions within their respective industries

BROOKFIELD, CT — Paragon Networks announced today the successful closing of its largest round of financing to date.

The $12.5 million, Series D round was led by Stephens Group, Inc., and was joined by Axiom Venture Partners, Connecticut Innovations, MSA Venture Partners and existing investors, including Granite Ventures (previously-H&Q Venture Associates), JK&B Capital and the Quantum Fund (part of the Soros Private Equity Partners). The funding will be used primarily to fund Paragon’s on-going market expansion throughout Asia-Pacific and Europe and for additional product development efforts.

WILMINGTON, MA — kSARIA Corp., an automation pioneer in fiber-optic component assembly, has raised $20 million in second-round venture funding in a highly competitive capital market. The latest investment follows completion of kSARIA’s initial $15 million in venture funding nearly a year ago.
kSARIA’s second financing round was led by a new investor, Advent International in Boston, Mass., who was joined by all of kSARIA’s first-round institutional investors: North Bridge Venture Partners, U.S. Venture Partners, Boulder Ventures Ltd. and Spinner Asset Management, LLC. kSARIA will use its fresh influx of capital to fully develop its family of products and expand its sales and manufacturing infrastructure.

MENLO PARK, CA — SkyPilot Network Inc., has closed its second round of financing in the amount of $24.4 million. Mobius Venture Capital (formerly SOFTBANK Venture Capital) led the round. Other investors include AOL Time Warner Ventures, Softbank Asia Infrastructure Fund, L.P. (SAIF), Invesco Private Capital, Selby Venture Partners, Palo Alto Investors and Nexit Ventures.
SkyPilot Network is a next-generation broadband access provider that builds and operates wireless mesh networks in suburban markets based on the widely available industry standard 802.11 protocol.

SAN FRANCISCO — SOFTBANK Venture Capital (SBVC), a leading technology venture capital firm, today announced at its annual meeting it is changing its name to Mobius Venture Capital, a new name reflecting the independent status it has maintained since 1996. The decision to rename the firm will not affect the management, the size of the funds under management, the existing portfolio nor the scope of its U.S.-based operations or staff. Notable companies in its current portfolio include Comergent, Danger Research, Dantz Development, FinaPlex, Invesmart,, Terabeam, The Feld Group and United Devices.

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — Senesco Technologies Inc. (“Senesco” or the “Company”)(OTC BB: SENO), announced today that it has completed a two million dollar placement of equity securities with Stanford Venture Capital Holdings, Inc. (“Stanford”). The offering consisted of 1,142,858 shares of Common Stock, warrants to purchase 500,000 shares of Common Stock with an exercise price of $2.00 per share and warrants to purchase an additional 500,000 shares of Common Stock with an exercise price of $3.25 per share.

PALO ALTO, CA — Bergana Communications, a company developing highly integrated semiconductor solutions for broadband wireless applications, today announced it has secured $12 million in its first round of funding. This first round funding was co-led by Mobius Venture Capital (formerly SOFTBANK Venture Capital), Blueprint Ventures and Advanced Technology Ventures. Bergana’s executive management team includes: Bruce Sanguinetti, former president of Speedcom Wireless and former president and a co-founder of BreezeCOM; Ramesh Harjani, a widely recognized authority on CMOS RF; and Jaekyun Moon, a widely recognized authority on communication and signal processing technologies. Prior to founding Bergana, Drs. Harjani and Moon led extensive academic and applied research programs in their respective fields as tenured professors at the University of Minnesota.

ROSEMONT, IL — Comdisco Inc. (NYSE: CDO) announced today that as part of its ongoing cost reduction efforts the company will cut its workforce by approximately 10 percent, or 128 positions. Impacted employees are being notified this week, and will be released over the next 30 to 60 days. Just over half of the employees affected work in Comdisco’s facilities in the greater Chicago area, primarily in operations functions. Others are located throughout company operations worldwide.

Comdisco Inc. and 50 domestic U.S. subsidiaries filed voluntary petitions for relief under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois on July 16, 2001. The filing allows the company to provide for an orderly sale of some of its businesses, while resolving short-term liquidity issues and enabling the company to reorganize on a sound financial basis to support its continuing businesses.
Comdisco’s operations located outside of the United States were not included in the chapter 11 reorganization cases. All of Comdisco’s businesses, including those that filed for chapter 11, are conducting normal operations. Comdisco is continuing to pursue other strategic alternatives to create value for its stakeholders, including the potential sale of all or some of its leasing businesses, as well as the restructuring of its Ventures group. The company has targeted emergence from chapter 11 during the first half of 2002.

WASHINGTON — Former chairman and CEO of Caterpillar Inc., Donald V. Fites, will join Thayer Capital Partners’ Board of Advisors, the company announced today.

EDMONTON — Roam I.T., developer of the Rampart(TM) point-of-care, patient information management system for emergency medical services, announced today that the company has closed a $1.9 million venture capital financing deal. The funds will be used by Roam to roll out its operational EMS system throughout North America.

NOVATO, CA — QuantumShift raised over $32 million in funding this month co-led by existing investors Thomas Weisel Capital Partners, L.P. and Mayfield. Investment in the company now totals over $120 million following this third round of institutional funding. QuantumShift is a leading provider of full-service solutions for the management of communications, enabling companies to reduce costs and refocus resources to core business functions.

For yesterday’s Wire, click here

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