|General Atlantic Partners|
|Headquarters||Greenwich, Connecticut, USA|
|Key People||Steven Denning, chairman; Bill Ford, CEO|
General Atlantic is a US-based private equity firm focused on financial services, media, communications and healthcare.
It has a high profile in the exchange industry, with a portfolio including investments in NYSE Euronext, the New York Mercantile Exchange, the National Stock Exchange of India and the Brazilian Mercantile & Futures Exchange. Bill Ford, CEO, is a board member of NYSE Euronext and the Nymex.
The firm was co-founded in 1980 by Steven Denning as a family office investment for Charles Feeney, founder of the Duty Free International retail chain, and other wealthy investors. Denning, a former McKinsey & Co consultant, initially focused on the real estate, energy and information technology sectors. The property and oil and gas arms were spun off, and the group expanded from IT into other growth sectors, establishing its first overseas office in London in 1998. It relies on "limited" partners - usually wealthy families - rather than general rounds of fundraising.
General Atlantic has $15bn in funds under management as of November 2007 and a portfolio value of around $8bn in more than 50 companies, split evenly between the US and other countries. The firm invests across the life cycle of its holdings, typically in 8-12 companies a year with tranches ranging from $50m to $500m. Bill Ford, a former Morgan Stanley executive, joined in 1991, became president in 2005 before being appointed as CEO in January 2007.
The firm’s first foray into exchanges was a $125m investment in Archipelago Holdings, the Chicago-based electronic platform which later merged with the NYSE Group, now part of NYSE Euronext. The investment was announced in November 2003.
General Atlantic agreed to acquire a 10 percent stake in the New York Mercantile Exchange for $135m in September 2006, though the deal was not ratified amid shareholder opposition until March 2007, with the price raised to $170m. The firm did not participate in the November 2006 IPO because of a lock-up agreement.
The firm’s focus on India saw it acquire a 5 per cent stake in the National Stock Exchange of India in January 2007, with NYSE Euronext, Goldman Sachs and an affiliate of Softbank taking stakes in a deal valuing the exchange at $2,3bn. .
In September 2007, it agreed to pay R$1bn for a 10 percent stake in the Brazilian Mercantile & Futures Exchange as part of the Latin American’s group’s IPO, which was launched on November 30, 2007. The deal includes a two-year lock-up on the stock.