Apax France reaches first close on Fund IX – Exclusive

The fund has held a first close on 80 percent of its €750m target.

Paris-based buyout firm Apax Partners France has held a first close on its ninth flagship vehicle on €610 million, Private Equity International has learned.

Apax France IX, which began marketing in September, is targeting €750 million and has a hard cap of €1 billion. Investors were told about the close earlier this week.

The fund is understood to have received a substantial amount of commitments from existing investors spread globally.

Investors are believed to have started to look at the French market again as it is less expensive and less competitive than other markets, although US investors remain cautious.

The firm’s investor base is typically institutional, compromised of pension funds, insurance companies, sovereign wealth funds and funds of funds with half in France the the remainder split primarily between the US and Europe, according to is website.

Rede Partners is the placement agent on the fundraising. Rede and Apax France declined to comment.

The fund’s predecessor, Apax France Fund VIII, closed in 2011 on €700 million. Investors in Fund VIII include the West Midlands Pension Fund and the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, according to PEI Research & Analytics.

The latest vehicle will pursue the same strategy as its predecessor, investing in mid-market companies with an enterprise value of €100 million to €1 billion in Europe and primarily France, in the TMT, healthcare, retail and consumer, and business services sectors.

The firm's portfolio companies include Altran, a Paris-listed global engineering consulting company, Capio, a Stockholm-listed healthcare provider, French business school Inseec and the Netherlands’ SK Fire Safety Group, according to its website.

Fund VIII is almost fully invested after just four years, which is understood to have allayed some investor concerns about deal sourcing in an environment of high asset prices and mounting dry powder in Europe. The fund has one investment pending, the acquisition of 100 percent of Airbus Group’s commercial satellite business.

Fund VII, a 2006-vintage vehicle which closed on €900 million, is in realisation mode and exited a majority stake in French information services provider Infropro Digital to Towerbrook Capital Partners in February. The exit is understood to have generated a return of about 3x.