Marshall & Ilsley Corp. said it has received approval from the Federal Reserve Board to form a $150 million private equity fund.

The fund, to be called Mason Wells, will be used to invest in leveraged buyouts, recapitalizations, and growth financings that require $3 million to $15 million in equity, the bank said.

Mason Wells expands the reach of Milwaukee-based Marshall & Ilsley Capital Markets, and creates the biggest private equity fund in Wisconsin.

"It gives us an opportunity to continue the momentum that we have and to continue to serve our customer base," said John T. Byrnes, president of Marshall & Ilsley Capital Markets.

Private equity is nothing new for the bank; it has made modest investments-less than $5 million each-in middle-market manufacturing companies since 1983. In all the fund has invested $100 million in 60 transactions, including deals for H.K. Systems Inc. and Great Lakes Packaging. The bank has worked with private equity firms like William Blair Capital Markets and Robert W. Baird Capital Partners.

In the past the fund has taken only minority positions in transactions, using the bank's balance sheet.

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