Bridges Ventures closes on ethically focused RE fund debut

The investment firm set up by Apax Capital founder, Sir Ronald Cohen, has raised £26m for its first real estate fund. The vehicle is aimed at aiding the regeneration of areas of the UK in need of properties which meet high environmental standards.

Bridges Ventures, the social and environmental investment house set up by Apax Partners founder, Sir Ronald Cohen, has held a first equity closing for its debut real estate investment fund.

The firm announced today that it had mustered an initial spending power of more than £50 million ($83 million; €56 million), including debt, after raising £26 million in equity for its Sustainable Property Fund. The vehicle is aimed at investing in and renovating old buildings or undertaking developments that meet high environmental standards in the UK.

Investors in the fund include a number of those who have invested with Bridges Ventures through its other vehicles, the Bridges Social Entrepreneurs Fund and its Venture Funds I and II. Investors include the West Midland Pension Fund, Co-operative Financial Services, the R&S Cohen Foundation and individuals such as Sir Harry Solomon, founder of The Portland Trust, and Vernon Ellis, chairman of Accenture. The firm currently manages close to £150 million of equity overall.

Transactions will be undertaken either directly or via joint ventures and the firm indicated that a number of deals were already “under consideration”.

Michele Giddens, executive director of Bridges Ventures, said: “It is estimated by the Carbon Trust that 40-50% of all UK CO2 emissions are produced by the built environment, so the importance of ‘greening’ the property market is huge.  We have also seen from our own experience the impacts that revitalising buildings can make in regenerating low income areas and creating liveable neighbourhoods.”

Bridges Ventures was set up in 2002 as a fund manager “with a social mission whose commercial expertise is used to achieve social or environmental aims”. The firm’s funds have completed investments in areas such as environment, education and healthcare as well as real estate to date.