SJ Berwin cleans up with Wheb Ventures launch

SJ Berwin’s funds team has advised on its second closure this month with the launch of Wheb Ventures’ £105m Clean Technology Investment Fund.

The close of the venture capital fund follows that of the £450m Phoenix fund earlier this month, with private equity funds partner Josyane Gold leading
on both of the deals. Tax partner Dominic Adams also featured on both transactions.

The City firm has a longstanding relationship with Wheb Ventures, although this is the first cleantech fund on which the SJ Berwin team has acted for the client.
Gold, one of the founding partners of SJ Berwin’s fund formation practice, said the latest deal is a sign that funds work is returning, with financiers now looking to invest in a wider range of vehicles.

“There’s investor appetite for VC [venture capital] funds,” she said. “What this demonstrates is that there’s some activity in the market, although it’s ­largely found in green and cleantech funds.”

Investor’s in Wheb Ventures’ new vehicle include the Goldsmith family, of whom Ben Goldsmith is a founding partner, RIT ­Capital Partners, Rolls Royce chairman Simon Robertson and the European Investment Fund.

The SJ Berwin fund formation team has been seen as a leading practice in the sector for a number of years but has suffered a drop in profitability since the beginning of the current downturn.

Gold added: “For us, the combination of Phoenix and Wheb hopefully represents a cautious restarting of fundraising activity.”