(DealBook) Aqua Capital, a private equity firm based in São Paulo, has raised US$188m for its second fund, according to two people briefed on its efforts.
The first close came last week, when the firm updated its investors on its progress.
Investors in the new fund include the University of Texas Investment Management Company, a new backer in Aqua, and the German development firm DEG, a returning one, according to one individual.
The capital raised comes as recession and political uncertainty grip Brazil. Brazil’s president is highly unpopular and a major corruption investigation continues to rattle the country’s political and business elite.
Yet private equity can fill a void in turbulent times, especially when sources of capital for companies dry up, even if the industry has been affected by Brazil’s woes and the currency remains volatile.
Aqua, which has made growth-stage investments in the sector of agribusiness, food and logistics, is counting on that. The firm, founded in 2009, has typically sought family-run businesses, which remain plentiful here.
The firm usually takes a controlling stake and often invests in companies that can join forces.
For example, Aqua’s first fund backed two Brazilian refrigeration logistics companies, Comfrio Soluções Logísticas and Stock Tech Logistica. It then arranged that the two companies merge. Following that merger, Agro Merchants Group, backed by Oak Tree Capital Management, invested in the new group in a vote of confidence.
The $188 million it has secured in its first close already exceeds the size of its first fund, about $173 million, which closed in 2013.
Aqua is seeking to raise a total of $300 million, and has a hard cap of $350 million for this fund, one person said. The people briefed on the fund-raising efforts spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
Aqua Capital did not respond to a request for comment.
The fund-raising, which started last fall, is expected to continue over the next several months.