Argos Soditic finally exits stake in DPAM(3)

The French buyout firm has brought to an end its nine-year majority ownership of Paris-listed children’s retailer Du Pareil Au Même, selling its stake through a private placement.

French private equity firm Argos Soditic has finally exited its long-standing investment in Du Pareil Au Même, a Euronext-listed children’s clothing retailer, after selling its remaining 52 percent stake via a private placement.

Argos Soditic made €58.4 million by selling 1,264,909 Du Pareil Au Même shares – equivalent to a 51.86 percent stake – at €46.20 per share. The private placement, which was conducted via an accelerated book-build process, saw both French and international institutional investors snap up the shares on the first day.

Du Pareil Au Même sells children’s clothes, infant wear and shoes through its own stores and other outlets, mostly in France, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

Argos Soditic acquired a majority shareholding in 1998, three years after the company had listed on the Paris stock exchange, and brought in a new management team to run the business. As with many buyouts of French public companies, the difficulties involved in completing a full take-private meant that DPAM remained a listed business.

Since then the retailer has seen revenues rise from €109 million to €145 million last year thanks partly to a big rise in exports, which now account for 25 percent of all sales. There has also been a huge increase in sales outlets, from 80 to 318, with the number of employees rising from 710 to 1210.

As a result, DPAM’s share price has risen by more than 70 percent since the original listing, while it has a manageable debt level of just €10.8 million.

In the first half of this year, the group’s sales rose 6.5 percent to €71.2 million. It also opened 20 new outlets and said there were a further 25 to 35 planned for the second half – three quarters of which would be outside France.

Argos Soditic is a French mid-market buyout firm that normally invests in companies with revenues of €20 to €400 million. It is currently spending the €267 million Euroknights V fund, which closed last year.