Investment firm

TechnoPlus Ventures

(TASE:TNPV) has announced the signing of a fundraising agreement with the American investment bank

Mercator Capital

. It is estimated that the American bank will raise between $20 million-$30 million for the fund, over the next six months.

Although it is not yet known who will contribute to the fundraising effort, the bank is to be paid a commission (agreed upon in advance), and given options once a specified sum of money has been raised.

Mercator Capital is a private investment bank, which specializes in dealing with technology firms, in particular, software and telecommunication companies. The bank has a venture capital fund, which invests mostly in broadband communication technologies. The other investors in the fund are the Japanese NEC, and the founders of

Qualcomm

(Nasdaq:QCOM).

Last week TheMarker.com reported that the fund's shares soared 64% over the past three weeks. The huge rise followed a successful presentation by the fund's management to several institutional investors, a presentation possibly related to the new agreement. Yet, the current price of the stock is still far from its mid-June 2000 price of NIS 6.7.

Technoplus Ventures is a publicly traded VC fund, controlled by Itamar and Orna Patishi, who hold 20.5% of the company's share capital, and by Mivtach-Shamir Holding (TASE:MISH), which holds an 11.4% share. The bulk of the fund's activity is centered on investments in startups active in the Internet, communications, medical equipment, software, and electronics fields.

The company's market value is NIS 100.1 million, and it has NIS 7.2 million in cash reserves. During 2000, the fund raised about NIS 76 million to help finance its investments. The fund was also given $17.5 million in credit, some of it yet to be used, from a number of banking corporations, including

Bank Hapoalim

,

Bank Leumi

, and the

First International Bank of Israel

.

On the bottom line, the fund lost about NIS 18.6 million in 2000, as opposed to NIS 340,000 in 1999. A loss of NIS 12.4 million is attributed to amortizations by the company after shares it had purchased in

Shopserve.com

and

envelopes.com

, became worthless after these firms closed down.

During 2000, the fund invested a total of NIS 121 million, mostly in existing portfolio companies. TechnoPlus's portfolio contains, among others, copy control solutions provider

Midbar Copy Control Solutions

, and

Expand Networks

.

The fund's overall investment in technology and hi-tech companies comes to about $45 million. The estimated value of the companies in which the fund has invested, according to their price at the last financing round, comes to $85 million. Some $40 million of that amount is the value of hi-tech companies that raised capital after October of 2000.

TechnoPlus is also in a strategic cooperation with the American

CORAL Ventures

, which manages funds worth $330 million. Some of their joint ventures are Bluesoft, Elity, Alfy, Always-On and Optical Solutions in the U.S., and RichFX, Friendly Robotics and FlexLIGHT Networks in Israel.

The fund's stock on Tuesday fell 1.8%, on a large NIS 1.2 million turnover.