AXA buys CDC Ixis fund portfolio

Axa Private Equity has acquired a portfolio of ten French and overseas limited partnership investments from CDC Ixis Private Equity.

Axa Private Equity, the private equity unit of French insurance group Axa, has acquired a portfolio of ten private equity and venture capital private equity partnership investments from French private equity house CDC Ixis Private Equity.

According to French business daily L’Agefi, Axa is paying E170m for the portfolio, which was put up for sale by CDC last autumn. The deal is yet to be announced by the two firms.

The portfolio comprises ten investments in private equity funds held by CDC Ixis Private Equity, including interests in France Private Equity, a fund managed by Butler Capital Partners, and PAI LBO Fund, the first vehicle managed by PAI Management which is currently investing its third fund.

As part of the deal, Axa is also buying a number of venture capital partnerships, among them US-based Alta Partners and SI Ventures.

The deal enables CDC Ixis, the private equity unit of the French bank Caisse des Depots et Consignations, to reduce its private equity allocation, brought on by the introduction of Basle II, which requires bank and insurers to reduce their exposure to certain types of risk.

A number of investors were interested in acquiring the portfolio, before Axa agreed to pay what one source described as a “reasonable price, given the poor performance of some of the partnerships within the portfolio.”

CDC Private Equity, headed by Willy Stricker, had originally planned to offload a much larger portfolio, including a portion of its direct investments, before settling on a sale of the fund portfolio.

The deal is a landmark transaction for the secondaries unit at Axa Private Equity in its home market. The unit, headed by Vincent Gombault, has around E700m to invest and operates a partnership with US secondaries firm Paul Capital. According to the two partners, their alliance has in the past three years produced over 20 secondary acquisitions worth around $640m in the US and Europe.