BLM builds team ahead of Italian SPAC push

Infrastructure doyen Vito Gambarale and private equity veteran Carlo Mammola have joined forces with Berger, Lahnstein and Middelhoff to raise €250m for the Italian mid-market.

BLM Partners, the European alternatives firm set up in 2008, has completed a rash of hires at it gears up to launch its second special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), this time targeting the Italian mid-market.

The firm has hired Vito Gambarale, a well known face in the worlds of Italian industry, private equity and infrastructure, to be co-sponsor of the SPAC, which will be called Italy1. Gambarale’s long career includes spells at Telecom Italia, where he was general manager, and toll road operator Autostrade, where he was chief executive officer.

Vito Gamberale

Gambarale was also previously deputy chairman of 21 Investimenti, the Benetton family’s private equity fund. He is currently chief executive officer of the €1.9 billion Italian infrastructure fund F2i.

BLM has also hired Carlo Mammola, managing partner at European private equity firm Argan Capital. Mammola is a 20-year private equity veteran and has been leading Argan’s Italian operations. He was responsible for the firm’s investment in N&W Global Vending, which the firm exited in an €800 million sale to Investcorp and Barclays Private Equity in late 2008. Before joining Argan in 2000, Mammola was a managing director at Paribas Affaires Industrielles (now PAI Partners), responsible for the group’s Italian operations.

The firm has also built up a sales force led by Alessandro Falconi, the former head of European institutional sales at IBS Securities.

BLM Partners was founded in 2008 by Florian Lahnstein, the former European head of Bear Stearns; Thomas Middelhoff, Investcorp’s former European head; and Roland Berger, founder of Roland Berger Strategy Consultants. The firm’s first SPAC, Germany1, raised €250 million and acquired German mid-market company AEG Power Solutions in 2008.

The firm will begin marketing Italy1 in September with a target of €200 million. To read about BLM Partners’ plans in-depth – including how it intends to raise a more traditional private equity fund and its nascent hedge fund product – see the upcoming September issue of Private Equity International, available online for subscribers from September 1.