LONDON (Reuters) - British private equity firm Bridgepoint , which owns fastfood chain Pret a Manger, has raised 5.5 billion euros (£4.9 billion) for European investment, exceeding its 5 billion euro target, a source familiar with the matter said.
The raising of its sixth European fund had been scheduled to start in early 2018 but has already been fully allocated, the source said on Wednesday.
Since the financial crisis almost a decade ago, low-interest rates and cheap debt have boosted capital piling into private equity funds by investors looking for higher returns.
But rising valuations have made it harder to achieve high returns so much of the money sits idle. A record $954 billion globally, according to industry data provider Preqin.
Prior to this its most recent fund was Bridgepoint Europe V, a 4-billion-euro middle-market buyout fund, raised in 2015, that acquires European-headquartered companies valued up to 1 billion euros.
Sources expect the firm, which was spun out of Natwest bank in 2000, to list sandwich and coffee shop chain Pret a Manger in New York next year.
In November the firm agreed to buy Britain's Burger King franchise with 74 restaurants and prior to that British Miller Homes at a time when some private equity firms are discouraged by Britain's looming exit from the European Union.
($1 = 0.8465 euros)
(Reporting by Dasha Afanasieva, editing by Anjuli Davies and Louise Heavens)