3i acquires a minority stake in Poliris

3i’s French growth capital team has invested in a publisher of online real estate directories.

London-listed private equity firm 3i has acquired a minority stake in Poliris, a publisher of online real estate listings directories and property-related information in France.
3i paid €60 million ($80 million) for a 34 percent stake in Poliris. Former private equity owners AXA Private Equity and Alpha-Associés and venture capital firm Galileo Partners, all based in France, fully exited their investment in Poliris in the transaction. 

We have absolutely no doubt that this business will interest both the IPO markets and trade buyers in the coming 24 months.

Olivier Le Gall, investment director, 3i France

Olivier Le Gall, investment director at 3i France, told PEO that Paris-based venture capital firm Alven Capital and Europe@web, the internet investment arm of Group Arnault, partially exited while rolling over some of their original investment in the company. They now own, alongside 3i, 48 percent of the equity. The remaining 52 percent is held by the founders of the company.
As is usual with 3i’s growth capital transactions, the firm invested from its own balance sheet.

Le Gall said Poliris’s growth potential made it an attractive acquisition: “Poliris is three times bigger than the current number two in a fast-growing market. The market has growth rates between 30 and 40 percent per year and Poliris is outperforming that significantly, with profits doubling every year for the last four years.”

Le Gall added: “We were in competition with Carlyle and Apax and several trade buyers [to acquire Poliris] and we have absolutely no doubt that this business will interest both the IPO markets and trade buyers in the coming 24 months,” he said.

Le Gall:Poliris outperforms market growth

Founded in 1992 by CEO Denys Chalumeau and managing director Amal Amar, Paris-based Poliris publishes four websites: Seloger.com; Immostreet.com; SeLogerNeuf.com; and LaCotelmmo. According to a statement, Poliris has a turnover of €24 million.

3i’s previous growth capital investments in France include the March 2005 acquisition of an almost 40 percent stake in Carso, a specialist in laboratory testing for the food, environment and residential sectors; the April 2004 purchase of a 25 percent stake in Senoble, a manufacturer of dairy products and fresh desserts; and Dirickx Group, a construction and building materials company in which 3i invested in August 2004.