This week Private Equity International’s sister title Secondaries Investor launched Second Opinion, a series of interviews with market leaders. For the first in the series, Secondaries Investor sat down with global investment firm Ardian’s Benoît Verbrugghe to talk about the GP-led restructurings they have been involved with, the firm’s secret to success, and the deployment pace of its latest fund.
The funny thing about Ardian is that they don’t consider themselves the biggest players in the secondaries market.
Despite being ranked number one in Secondaries Investor‘s 2016 Si 30 ranking of the top secondaries fundraisers over the last five years, as well as amassing the largest-ever pool of dedicated capital with their latest fund in April, the firm, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, remains humble about its place in the market.
“Some people are very good at being a bit more exotic. We are boring,” Benoît Verbrugghe, head of Ardian US, tells Secondaries Investor. “We want to buy well-known assets where you have quality and where you can have visibility. The world is a little bit weird today.”
And Verbrugghe has the experience to put ‘a little weird’ in context. He has been at the Paris-headquartered AXA spinout for 17 of its 20 years. Starting as an intern at AXA Private Equity in 1999, he rose through the ranks to become head of the firm’s US operations in 2010. The 2009 global financial crisis showed him the value of acquiring good quality stakes.