PE money venturing toward small side


NEW YORK -- While the recent global credit market crunch continues to cast doubts over big private-equity buyouts, interest in venture fundings of small up-and-comers seems to remain unaffected.

In reporting the firm's first quarterly results since becoming a publicly traded firm, management at private-equity powerhouse Blackstone Group Lp. said Monday that in the current market, finding and financing new deals, especially big ones, has become more difficult. However, president and COO Hamilton "Tony" James said that Blackstone has "very few hung deals," and sellers seem to have started accepting lower buyout prices in a potential positive development.

Brass at Blackstone -- an investor in the Nielsen Co., corporate parent of The Hollywood Reporter -- also pointed to smaller U.S. deals and buyouts in Europe and Asia as key opportunities in the current marketplace. They didn't specifically discuss media and entertainment deals.

Meanwhile, Batanga, an Internet portal for so-called new-generation Latinos who are bilingual and bicultural, unveiled a $30 million financing Monday led by Tudor Ventures as well as existing investor HIG Ventures.

The Miami-based firm said that it will use the funds for marketing and the development of social media products and online content.

"The Hispanic online marketplace is one of the fastest-growing segments in the U.S. media market, and Batanga is one of the fastest-growing companies in it," Batanga chairman and CEO Rafael Urbina said. He also forecast "strong growth for years to come" given current demographic trends.

Batanga said it has 4.5 million-plus unique visitors per month, with 10 million-plus video streams and 90 million-plus song streams per month.