Ardian closes on €2.4bn for direct deals

The firm formerly known as AXA Private Equity has celebrated its independence by closing a new buyout fund above target – plus another €400m co-investment vehicle.

Ardian has closed its LBO Fund V on €2.41 billion, less than a week after finally completing its protracted spin-out from insurer AXA Group.

The firm – previously known as AXA Private Equity – was able to beat its €2 billion target and raise a fund that is more than 50 percent larger than its previous direct investment vehicle, which closed on €1.6 billion in 2008.

Ardian said that around half of the total came from its existing investors, with the rest coming from new investors in North America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.  “It is great to see significant re-ups from our previous funds and to welcome new investors,” said Philippe Poletti, senior managing director at Ardian, in a statement. “Our portfolio companies across our funds are well distributed over sectors and countries, are conservatively leveraged and have resisted the worst of the economic downturn.”

The firm said that 24 percent of the new fund had already been committed to six European mid-market transactions. This includes four new investments: Riemser, a German pharmaceuticals company; Fives, a French engineering group; Lima Corporate, an Italian prosthetics company; and Trescal, a French calibration specialist. Ardian is also pursuing two follow-on acquisitions for Fives.

Alongside the new fund, Ardian has also accumulated additional funds – of “up to €400 million” – for co-investment purposes.

Ardian manages or advises US$36 billion of assets in Europe, North America and Asia. The GP was valued at €510 million when its spin out was announced in March. Although AXA retains a 23 percent stake in Ardian, the company is now managed and majority-owned by its employees.