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Still a doughty performer?

Leading European private-equity firm Doughty Hanson finally launched its long-delayed fourth buy-out fund at the end of October but will have to work hard to convince investors to hand over their money.

Doughty Hanson first planned to launch the fund last autumn but decided to postpone it due to the impact of the events of September 11. The New York tragedy certainly closed off a number of exit routes.

At that time, as well as hoping to raise new funds, Doughty Hanson was planning IPOs for several companies, such as LM Glasfiber, but found that it couldn't get these off the ground. CDC also pulled out of a secondary buy-out of Doughty Hanson's investment in Dunlop Aerospace and the firm then failed to list the company on Nasdaq.

A banker involved with private equity at an investment bank says in Doughty Hanson's defence: "The LM Glasfiber IPO was pulled last year because they didn't like the valuation." Referring to Dunlop he adds: "Charterhouse was due to sign on 9/11. Then they tried to IPO last summer but there was no IPO market. Dick Hanson didn't like the prices so he decided to hold it so they could get a higher multiple."

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