Ardian raises $9bn for secondaries

The fund, which came to market in October, held a $5bn interim close in March.

Paris-based Ardian, formerly known as AXA Private Equity, has collected $9 billion for its sixth secondaries vehicle, according to a statement.

The firm started marketing the vehicle last October just after it completed its spin-out from parent insurer AXA Group.

Ardian’s Secondary Fund VI held an interim $5 billion close in March, having held a $3.5 billion first close last December.

The firm, which had a re-up rate of close to 100 percent, said it attracted major institutional investors including pension funds, government agencies and family offices. Approximately 40 percent of investors came from North America, 21 percent came from the Middle East and Asia and 39 percent LPs came from Europe, according to an Ardian spokesperson.

Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System (TCRS) committed $75 million to the fund, according to minutes from an investment committee meeting last November. Michigan State and the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System also backed the fund.

AXA, which still owns a 23 percent stake in Ardian’s management company, was also expected to make a commitment in line with its agreement to provide €4.8 billion to Ardian funds through 2018, PEI reported earlier.

On top of the $9 billion for secondaries, Ardian also raised $1 billion for primary commitments. The firm had a similar structure when it raised its prior secondaries fund, which closed on $7.1 billion in June 2012. That vehicle, which is now fully deployed, raised a $900 million for a sidecar that acted as a primary fund of funds.

Fund VI is expected to do roughly 15-20 deals, according to TCRS documents. Since the start of the year, Ardian has already deployed more than $2 billion in three secondary transactions. Ardian acquired buyout and growth portfolios from a financial institution for $600 million and has been chosen by Temasek, a Singapore sovereign wealth fund, to provide independent valuation and manage their new co-investment platform holding 36 private equity funds. Fund VI is approximately 20 percent deployed. 

Between September 2012 and December 2013, Ardian deployed more than $4.3 billion in approximately 21 secondary transactions. “Every year we are able to see deal flow between $20 billion to $30 billion. This year, it could be even $40 billion,” Benoit Verbrugghe, managing partner and head of Ardian USA, told Private Equity International

However, competition, and therefore valuations are high, he admitted. “There are a lot of funds [with] dry powder, buy we are very selective,” he said. It typically only completes one transaction out of 10 deals available to them, Verbrugghe insisted. “You need to be selective and look at funds and [underlining] companies that still have a lot of growth. You to have very deep due diligence every time so you know exactly what you are buying.”

Ardian is also not in a hurry to invest the fund, he said. “We have five years to invest the fund, but it could be three years as well. It will depend on the opportunities.”

Secondary funds are proving to be popular among LPs. Last week, Pomona Capital closed its oversubscribed Fund VIII on $1.75 billion. In the same month, Paris-based Idinvest Partners held a €214 million final close for its Secondary Fund II, while The Blackstone Group held a $1.5 billion first close of its first secondaries fund since acquiring the secondaries group from Credit Suisse. Last October, AlpInvest Partners raised $4.2 billion for its latest secondaries vehicle.

For a more in-depth look at the secondaries market, be sure to check out PEI’s May issue, which will include our annual secondaries roundtable.