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Triton Eyes €2.5B Fund

(Reuters) – Northern European private equity firm Triton Partners is hoping to raise at least 2.5 billion euros ($3.3 billion) for buyouts, just two years after finalizing its last deals fund, two people familiar with the situation said.

Triton, which owns Nordic healthcare group Ambea and electrics and plumbing installation company Bravida, is preparing a fund that could be larger than its last 2.4 billion euro fund, the people said.

The new fund underlines confidence in the Scandinavian markets, where Triton spends much of its time looking for new companies to buy, and would cement the firm’s position as one of Europe’s leading mid-market private equity houses.

However, Triton, which focuses on deals in Nordic markets and German-speaking Europe, faces a fierce fight for investors’ capital, as it joins a growing band of private equity groups including Apax Partners, Carlyle Group and KKR asking for billions of dollars of funding.

Swedish group IK Investment Partners is more than halfway to raising 1.7 billion euros for its latest fund, a source familiar with the situation said last week.

Buyout firms are currently seeking $193.6 billion for new deals, according to data firm Preqin. That’s up from $177.4 billion at the start of the year, itself an 81 percent increase on what firms were after at the start of 2011.

Those with slim pickings in terms of performance are facing short shrift from picky investors, while those that outperformed their peers – and have returned cash from the sale of companies – are meeting, and in some cases exceeding their targets.

British mid-market firm Duke Street pulled its latest fund amid tepid response from investors, while BC Partners and EQT both got more than expected.

Triton is considering the sale of Bravida, steel manufacturer Ovako and chemicals maker Ruetgers Group.

With its team of some 70 professionals, it aims to get actively involved in its companies’ operations. It is highly regarded by its investors and expected to do well in its fundraising drive, the people said.

However, it has run into criticism in Sweden over allegations of mistreatment of elderly patients at Carema, a division of healthcare group Ambea, which it acquired from 3i in 2010. Triton declined to comment.

(By Simon Meads; $1 = 0.7534 euros)