3i invests in French rail company

The European private equity firm has acquired a controlling stake in Keolis, the French transportation company, for a reported €500m.

3i, the UK-headquartered private equity firm, has bought a 53.5 percent controlling stake in Keolis, the French transportation company, part-owned by France’s Societe Nationale de Chemins de Fer (SNCF).

3i acquired the shareholdings of French bank BNP Paribas (48.7 percent) and media company Vivendi Universal (7.8 percent). SNCF is retaining its 43.5 percent stake, with the remaining three percent held by management.

The precise terms of the deal were not disclosed although sources close to the transaction said the deal was worth approximately €500 million ($610 million).

As part of the state-owned rail company SNCF, Keolis runs pan-European transport services, including metros, trains and buses.

Last month 3i made four new appointments to its Paris office. Domnin de Kerdaniel joined from the London office of global private equity firm, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Frederic Jannin was recruited from global firm, Apax Partners Worldwide.

3i has a team of 25 investment professionals in the Paris office with ten focusing on buyouts, ten on growth capital and five looking at technology investments.

Last month, 3i also announced the appointment of Philip Yea from Investcorp, the first external chief executive the company has ever had. Yea will take up his new position in July.