American Capital launches Paris office

The US publicly traded buyout and mezzanine house has launched an office in Paris as a prelude to a broader expansion into the European market.

American Capital Strategies (American Capital), the Bethesda, Maryland-based provider of one-stop financing solutions to mid-market companies, has established a Paris-based European affiliate known as European Capital Financial Services (European Capital).

A six-strong team headed by Jean Eichenlaub will invest between €5 million ($6.4 million) and €125 million ($161.3 million) of equity, mezzanine and senior debt to fund growth, acquisitions and recapitalisations. It will invest through buyouts as well as directly in companies.

Eichenlaub told PEO European Capital would initially rely on Nasdaq-listed American Capital to finance its deals, but said the European franchise may go about raising its own funds in due course – though he declined to elaborate further on this at the current time.

Eichenlaub, who joined the organisation four weeks ago, becomes managing director and a member of the investment committee. He has spent the last five years at Fonds Partenaires-Gestion, the private equity subsidiary of Banque Lazard, where he served three years as deputy managing director. Prior to that, he was a director and head of the asset and structured finance department at Commerzbank in Paris.

He is joined at European Capital by director Jacques Pancrazi, who was a colleague at Fonds Partenaires-Gestion, where he had responsibility for portfolio management and financial performance monitoring. In addition, American Capital managing director Roland Cline has relocated to Paris to “provide integration with American Capital and future offices we establish in Europe”, according to a statement. 

Malon Wilkus, American Capital chairman, president and CEO becomes chairman and CEO of European Capital, while Ira Wagner, American Capital chief operating officer, becomes president of European Capital.

We can respond throughout Europe with fast and attractive financing solutions

Jean Eichenlaub, managing director, European Capital 

Eichenlaub said: “With our large institutional capabilities, we can respond throughout Europe with fast and attractive financing solutions.”   
He added that, providing the acquired company was progressing well, the firm would subsequently seek to sell down the senior debt element to the syndication market.

Eichenlaub hinted that European Capital would launch further offices around the continent in due course, saying that a move to the UK “should not be excluded”.

American Capital has completed three buyouts in Europe over the last three years. One of these was in France in July last year, when it invested €55 million in Sinodis, a food brand distributor.

Since listing on Nasdaq in August 1997, American Capital has invested approximately $5 billion in 150 portfolio companies in sectors including services, transport, retail and healthcare. The firm has over 100 investment professionals in seven offices around the US and, according to its website, has “capital resources exceeding $5.2 billion.”