California tribes, Wells Fargo form $25 million private equity fund

26 February 2008

SAN FRANCISCO, California – (PRESS RELEASE) -- Wells Fargo Community Development Corporation (CDC), the Colusa Indian Tribe and the Rincon Indian Tribe today said they have formed First Nations Capital Partners, LLC (FNCP), a specialized $25 million private equity fund. FNCP is the first private equity fund in the U.S. with tribal governments as its primary investors, owners and managers.

Two California tribes -- the Colusa Indian Community of Colusa, a gaming and farming tribe near Sacramento; and the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians, owners of Harrah's Resort and Casino in Valley Center -- in conjunction with Wells Fargo CDC, have agreed to become the lead investors in the fund. Each has committed to invest up to $5 million in the fund over five years. Other Indian tribes and Nations are expected to commit $1 million to $5 million each, while four to six individual investors are joining the tribes with a maximum investment of $250,000 each.

The majority of the FNCP capital contributors are Indian tribes that want to diversify their investment portfolios in different industries and geographic regions. FNCP will seek to preserve investors' capital while investing in profitable operating companies with experienced management in niche markets.

"Gaming has been good for us, but it's a one-trick pony," said Vernon Wright, chairman of Rincon. "That's why we've made economic diversification one of our top priorities."

FNCP intends to make eight to 10 individual investments, averaging $2 million to $3 million each, in a variety of emerging, profitable businesses with sales under $50 million and a minimum of $1 million of earnings before interest in 11 western states. FNCP will seek to partner with other experienced fund investors and be a competitive acquirer.

"Our goal of putting visionary capital to work for our investors and portfolio companies is designed to create partnerships between Tribal Nations and the greater business community," said John Upshur, managing director of FNCP.

"We're happy to partner with these Tribes to bring capital to a variety of small businesses," said Bob Taylor, president of Wells Fargo Community Development Corporation. "It brings new investment opportunities to tribes that want to expand their business interests."

The Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians of Valley Center, California, own Harrah's Resort and Casino with 667 guest rooms, spa and up-scale dinning near San Diego.

The Colusa Indian Community Council is the governing body of the Cachil Dehe Band of Wintun Indians. The tribe owns and operates the Colusa Casino Resort near Sacramento, California, and is a successful farming operator-raising crops such as rice, walnuts and almonds.

Wells Fargo Community Development Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Wells Fargo & Co. and manages CRA and community development investments.


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