Abu Dhabi’s ADIA held talks to buy stake in Ardian

Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and France's largest private markets investment firm are understood to have been in discussions about a deal as recently as mid-October.

Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the world’s biggest sovereign wealth funds by assets, has been in talks to acquire a stake in the management company of Ardian as the firm seeks to raise its biggest ever secondaries fund.

The $649 billion Gulf investor and France’s biggest private markets investment firm were in discussions as late as mid-October about a potential management company stake sale, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

According to two of the sources, the talks are not currently continuing due to a disagreement over how much the latter is valued.

It is unclear how large a stake ADIA has been considering acquiring in Ardian.

Private Equity International understands that the mismatch around how much Ardian is worth involves two separate valuation figures of $4 billion and $6.5 billion. According to another source familiar with the matter, the former was a number mooted by an adviser and not necessarily considered a realistic proposal, while the $6.5 billion figure came out of a separate third-party valuations process that may not reflect Ardian’s value via any ultimate transaction.

The development comes eight months after affiliate title Secondaries Investor reported that Ardian had been speaking to JPMorgan about a potential IPO.

A spokesperson for Ardian said at the time that the firm had not mandated JPMorgan for an IPO, telling Secondaries Investor that while it has been reviewing “opportunities” as part of a regular three-year strategic review, “no bank has been mandated with a view to an IPO or any other kind of transaction”.

Separately, PEI understands that ADIA has committed a total of $6 billion to Ardian to manage for secondaries in what would represent one of the largest commitments to a commingled private markets fund. The commitment comprises $4 billion to ASF IX, the firm’s latest secondaries fund, and $2 billion for secondaries co-investments, according to two of the sources.

ASF IX is seeking $15 billion, according to PEI data. The firm was expecting to hold the final close on the vehicle in the second quarter of next year, according to documents prepared by consultant StepStone for the Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System‘s September investment committee meeting.

PEI reported in July that Ardian was expecting to hold a first close in autumn this year on more than $10 billion for ASF IX.

ADIA appears to have taken an interest in secondaries strategies in recent months. The SWF was a cornerstone investor in Apollo Global Management‘s Sponsor and Secondary Solutions business, or S3, which launched in August.

Separate spokespeople for ADIA and Ardian declined to comment.

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