Astorg Partners hits €300m fund target

The French mid-cap private equity firm has reached a €300 million target at the final closing of its latest fund, which was launched 18 months ago.

Astorg Partners, the independent Paris-based buyout firm that was spun out of Suez in 1998, has reached a target of €300 million ($386 million) for its latest fund, Astorg III. The fund is the successor to the firm’s Astorg II fund, which closed on €185 million in 1999.

The firm used a number of placement agents during the course of the fundraising. After initially hiring Global Private Equity, Astorg then switched to using undisclosed freelance agents before using Triago and Trailhead in the latter stages of the fundraising. The firm declined to comment on the reasons for the switches.           

In a statement, Astorg said the fundraising attracted commitments from 17 institutional investors, including: AIG, Adams Street Partners and Invesco of the US; AXA and CDC of France; Morley Fund Management and Scottish Widows of the UK; Belgian bank Fortis; and Iceland’s Landsbanki.

In all, French investors accounted for 38.9 percent of the total raised; US investors 18.1 percent; UK investors 16.4 percent; the rest of Europe (excluding France and the UK) 21.5 percent; and the Middle East five percent. Institutions accounted for 70.1 percent of the total; funds of funds 25.9 percent; and family offices and high net worth individuals four per cent.

In an interview with PEO, Astorg co-founder Thierry Timsit said the firm was disappointed by the amount of capital committed by US sources. “We had expected more commitments from US investors given their stated appetite for Europe,” he said. “It seemed that they were wary of investing in a country fund, and there also may have been a currency factor.”       

The firm said 25 percent of the fund has already been allocated to three French companies: ECM, a manufacturer of heat treatment equipment used in processing metallic parts for the automotive industry; Mecatherm, an industrial bread making equipment business; and CIS, a provider of water metering services for property owners and facility managers.

Timsit said the firm was “a bit cautious regarding GDP growth in Europe”. As a result, it is targeting companies with a major export potential as well as those in sectors deemed to be relatively “recession proof”, such as healthcare.   

Astorg Partners, which has ten investment professionals in all, is wholly owned by its four founding partners: Xavier Moreno, Joel Lacourt, Gilles Sicard and Timsit. The firm has €485 million under management and focuses on completing two to three deals a year, investing €10 million to €60 million per deal in companies with an enterprise value of between €30 million and €300 million.
 
In a statement, Astorg claimed to have closed 47 transactions over the last 15 years, yielding an annual return (IRR) of 30 percent on realised investments.