UK/EUROPE- Standard Life Investments has launched a private equity fund of funds that will invest in a mix of European private equity funds and direct investments.

European Strategic Partners II (ESP II) will offer potential investors the choice of participating in either private equity funds or in a partnership consisting of at least 70% in funds and 30% in direct investments, or a combination of both.

It will invest predominantly in western Europe in funds targeting buy outs and development and expansion capital for transactions valued between e50-e400m.

ESP anticipates raising e1bn and will be managed by Standard Life Investment private equity. It suceeds the European Strategic Partners fund of fund which closed in October 2000 having raised e868m.

Jonny Maxwell, chief executive of Standard Life Investment private equity, says: “ESP II is designed to give investors the opportunity to invest with a selection of the premier European private equity managers in Europe.

“We believe exceptional opportunities exist for investment in Europe today. In the past year we have seen a correction in prices which we believe creates compelling long-term investment opportunities.”