AXA sells French saucemaker to Heinz

The Paris-based private equity arm of French insurer AXA has divested itself of a 2005 investment from its third fund following the recent close of Fund IV on €1.6 billion; AXA Private Equity has also opened an office in Zurich.

AXA Private Equity has agreed to sell French sauce manufacturer Bénédicta to H J Heinz Company for an undisclosed amount.

Paris-based AXA agreed to acquire Bénédicta in July 2005, via the firm’s €500 million LBO Fund III, from Barclay’s Private Equity and the private equity arm of Netherlands-based bank ABN AMRO. No financial details were disclosed however the financing was provided by Fortis Banque France and Capzanine.

AXA and the management team together hold 100 percent of Bénédicta. An AXA spokesman declined to comment on the transaction.

Last month, AXA closed its fourth buyout fund on €1.6 billion ($2.5 billion) bringing total committed capital under management to more than $22 billion. The firm’s previous fund closed in 2005. The recently raised fund will target companies with market capitalisations of up to €2 billion.

AXA recently opened a seventh office in Zurich adding to its locations in Paris, London, Frankfurt, Milan, New York and Singapore. The firm opened the office as a move to strengthen links with AXA Winterthur, AXA’s Switzerland-based wealth management business.

The Zurich office will oversee AXA Winterthur’s current private equity investors and provide services to Swiss private banks and family offices. The team will also pursue secondary investment opportunities.