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Report: Metric Capital halts $500M fundraising plan with Virgin Group founder

Metric Capital Partners LLP has held off its plans to raise a $500 million private equity fund with Virgin.com Ltd. founder Richard Branson to focus instead on its next flagship credit fund, which aims to collect more than $1 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The London-based private-credit firm did not have the capacity to raise two funds simultaneously, one person told the Journal. Branson would not have participated in the fundraising, a second person said.

Metric Managing Partner John Sinik suggested teaming up with Branson over a year ago, according to the report. The fundraising has not been formally launched by Metric and was intended to invest in consumer brands across the U.S. and Europe, some of the people said.

According to an early fund-marketing document reviewed by the Journal, Branson's business acumen and the firm's expertise in private credit will give the fund an edge with access to Branson's business network to find investment opportunities.

Branson's role would have been confined to advising portfolio companies and sometimes helping to find deals, one person said. He would have invested in the fund via his family office, which owns stakes in other private equity funds.

Over the same period, the firm talked with a small group of investors including U.S. public pension manager Florida State Board of Administration and Singaporean sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings (Pte.) Ltd. but none of them committed to the fund, some of the sources said.

People familiar with the initial marketing pitch and documents viewed by the Journal pointed out certain investor concerns to the potential fund such as the splitting of resources and personnel between the new private equity partnership and the flagship credit team.

Metric looks to revive the fund in the future, according to a source.