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Comment: Warburg Pincus gets busy in March

Warburg Pincus was to the fore in one of the busiest months for private equity in recent memory. The private equity house, which currently has around USD30bn in assets under management, has bought Manitowoc's ice business for USD160m in a divestiture necessary to meet the anti-trust conditions imposed by the US Department of Justice and the European Commission on its USD2.7bn acquisition of Enodis last October.

Warburg Pincus has picked up another strategic stake by becoming one of the larger shareholders in Premier Foods, the UK-based maker of Hovis bread and Bisto gravy, in a capital-raising exercise.

The US private equity firm now owns 13.75 per cent of Premier's expanded share capital and will be entitled to nominate a board member. Warburg, which has pledged not to sell any shares for 12 months, originally subscribed to 246 million of the new shares but has been allocated a further 84 million.

Earlier this month Warburg Pincus raised its stake in bond insurer MBIA from 25 to 30.4 per cent, according to a regulatory filing. The firm bought into MBIA in December 2007, with a deal to invest USD1bn, including the purchase of 16.1 million shares at USD31 each.

Warburg Pincus seems to be sticking to its longstanding strategy of being highly diversified and focusing on growth investing instead of going down the route of distressed investment like many of its competitors in the current climate. And its spurt of activity is another sign that private equity isn't dead, it's only been sleeping.

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