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One less fund in Govt's venture capital programme

Sunday 15th June 2003

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Orion New Zealand Limited and Infratil have decided to pull out of the Government's Venture Investment Fund (NZVIF) because of changes within their IO Fund joint venture.

The fund says it will fully repay NZVIF funds drawn down to date, plus interest and costs.

Funds previously committed to the IO Fund under the NZVIF Programme now will be freed up for NZVIF investment in other VIF Seed Funds.

"The $20 million freed up by the IO Fund buyout will be added to the $15 million currently available, meaning $35 million will now be available for investment in VIF Seed Funds," NZVIF chairman John Grant says.

The other VIF Seed Fund managers selected are: No 8 Ventures, Endeavour i-cap and TMT Ventures, with iGlobe Treasury Funds shortly to complete its documentation.

Infratil's Lloyd Morrison says the decision follows changes in key personnel and subsequent strategic review.

"We have been very impressed with the concept and execution of NZVIF. The programme is very professional and has already stimulated growth in the New Zealand venture capital market.

"However our focus has changed and with the departure of senior executive Chris Laurie, we need to review our situation."

Grant says NZVIF intends to set aside some of the funds specifically for establishing one or more biotechnology focused VIF Seed Funds.

"In addition a number of our current fund managers have put up their hands for further NZVIF investment."

The Government's NZVIF was set up in 2001 with $100 million capital to invest in high growth potential, early stage businesses, with the idea that it would be matched two-to-one by private investment. Investment decisions are made by selected private sector venture capital fund managers, responsible for managing the VIF Seed Funds.

NZVIF is similar to other venture capital "fund of funds" in Israel, Singapore and Australia. The idea behind it was to stimulate the venture capital market in New Zealand and address the investment gap for seed and start up businesses with high growth potential.

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