After a turbulent few years, Ireland is currently Europe’s fastest-growing economy. Driven by falling commodity prices and an improving macroeconomic picture across Europe, the Irish economy is on track to grow by 6% in 2015. This buoyant mood appears to have positively affected Ireland-based private equity fund managers, which raised a record €435mn in 2014.
Preqin’s Fund Manager Profiles database shows that Dublin remains, unequivocally, the hotbed for private equity in the Republic of Ireland. The capital is home to the majority 26 of the 30 active private equity firms in the country. Collectively, Ireland-based firms have raised approximately €1.3bn over the last decade, with an estimated €671mn in dry powder.
Cardinal Capital Group is Ireland’s largest private equity firm based on funds raised in the last 10 years. The firm has amassed nearly €292mn (excluding its real estate activities) in capital commitments, largely attributable to its 2014 vintage Carlyle Cardinal Ireland Fund. Cardinal and Carlyle’s joint venture is the largest Ireland-based vehicle ever raised. The firm is already on course to exceed this fund size with its newest offering, the WRL Cardinal Mezzanine Fund, a joint venture between Cardinal and WL Ross & Co. The fund provides subordinated real estate debt financing for investment, development and loan refinancing and is looking to raise €350mn.
In terms of number of funds raised, Kernel Capital and Atlantic Bridge have been the most active fund managers from 2008 onwards, each raising a total of three funds. Kernel Capital, the Dublin-based venture capital firm, invests exclusively in the IT and engineering sectors across both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. In comparison, its life sciences-focused arm, Seroba Kernel, has a preference for a broader investment jurisdiction covering most of mainland Europe. Most recently, Kernel closed its Bank of Ireland Kernel Capital Growth Fund on £25mn in 2014.
In addition to being among the most active Ireland-based private equity firms, Atlantic Bridge is Ireland’s largest growth-focused firm. Through its offices in Dublin, London, Palo Alto, Beijing and Hong Kong, Atlantic Bridge pursues growth and late stage investments across the cloud, SaaS, mobile and big data markets. The firm is currently in the process of raising its third flagship fund, Atlantic Bridge Capital III, which is targeting €150mn.