ITALY – Mediolanum State Street SGRpA, the Italian institutional investment management joint venture, has launched the first Italian private equity fund of funds.

The structure, named Fondamenta - registered in Italy and authorised by the Banca d’Italia, - will invest around 60-70% of its commitments in Italian private equity funds and 30-40% in Italian co-investments, predominantly in small and medium sized companies.

The initial close of the fund has been announced at e160m - above the e150m target, with a number of Italian institutions amongst the investors, including Fondazione Cariplo, Fondazione Cariverona and Cassa Forense.

Commitments of e34m have already been made or are being finalised to a number of companies including luxury goods group Opera, Arca Impresa, Convergenza and Emerald.

Banca Commerciale Italiana will act as custodian to the fund's assets.

The fund of funds launch comes on the back of healthy growth in the Italian private equity market. Between 1996 and 1999 the market more than tripled in size from e516m to e1.8bn.

Alan Brown, chairman of Mediolanum State Street SGRpA, comments: “Fondamenta’s launch is extremely timely: the impact of generational change on the Italian corporate sector has led to an increase in IPOs. The development of equity markets over the last ten years and the opportunities these changes have provided has resulted in the arrival locally of a number of international private equity firms.”

The fund is expected to have its second closing before the end of the year.