As expected, WL Ross & Co. officially launched its latest distressed investment vehicle, WLR Recovery Fund V, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. A target was not identified, although published reports late last year indicated the firm would seek $4 billion for the new fund.

The fund launch comes a little less than three years after the firm closed its fourth vehicle, WLR Recovery Fund IV, which collected $4 billion in commitments. The firm’s fourth vehicle was its first following its sale to Invesco Ltd., a deal completed in 2006.  

Based on WL Ross’s track record, the firm should have no shortage of limited partners for the new fund. CalPERs, an investor in WL Ross’s four previous vehicles, reported in May that Fund IV is currently showing an IRR of 13%, putting the vehicle among the top performers from the pension’s 2007 commitments. WL Ross’s debut fund, raised in 1997, and its 2002-vintage follow-up vehicle, also posted impressive returns, with IRRs of 35.1% and 79.7%, respectively.

Invesco Distributors was listed as a placement agent for the vehicle.

The new fund comes amid a fairly busy couple of years for WL Ross. The firm has been actively targeting distressed banks, acquiring BankUnited last year and following that purchase with a significant investment in First Michigan Bancorp, which preceded First Michigan's acquisition of CF Bancorp out of receivership. WL Ross also scored a huge win with its investment in The Greenbrier Cos., in which WL Ross provided a $75 million term loan that came with warrants representing a 16% stake in the company. The firm followed that deal with a $230 million investment alongside Greenbriar to purchase a lease portfolio of nearly 4,000 railcars.

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