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German venture firm TVM, with smaller footprint in Boston, says it'll stay

Posted by Scott Kirsner  September 17, 2010 08:15 AM

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Dispelling rumors that the Munich-based venture capital firm TVM Capital might be turning out the lights at its Boston office, a TVM spokesperson tells me this week that the firm plans on maintaining a presence here for the foreseeable future.

But it's a smaller presence than in the past, with just one life sciences partner (Jens Eckstein) and one technology-focused partner (Edward Braginsky.) And TVM quietly shut down a small New York outpost late last year, which had been opened only in 2007.

One life sciences partner who had joined the Boston office in 2007, Marios Fotiadis, has moved back to Europe and is now focusing on the Middle East, where TVM just began doing deals this year. Others, like Gert Caspritz and Stephen Hoffman, peeled off from the firm several years ago.

TVM raised a $300 million life sciences war chest in 2005, and is out raising a new fund now. The firm's last tech-oriented fund, totaling $121 million, was raised way back in 2002.

Shaking down prospective limited partners is rough right now for any venture capital firm, and one source tells me that Helmut Schüsler, a Munich-based managing partner of TVM, told the Boston office that he wasn't making any guarantees about continued support past the end of this year.

In life sciences, the Boston team has led investments in Sirna Therapeutics and Sirtris Pharmaceuticals (both of which went public and were later acquired), and Acorda Therapeutics (still publicly-traded.) On the tech side, Braginsky invested in ExtendMedia, a video software company in Newton that was bought by Cisco last month for a reported $80 million.

TVM spokesperson Nancy Saucier writes via e-mail that the firm's life sciences partners have and will continue to "source deals in the U.S. that fit our investment strategy, which is diversified in stage and sector, with a core European market, manufacturing, or development component."

"As with all VC firms, our team, in both Boston and Munich, will change over time with fundraising cycles and strategy changes to exceed the expectations of our limited partners," Saucier writes.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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