BS sells stake to Gruppo Banca Leonardo, launches €600m fund

The Italian private equity firm has secured a backer as it embarks on fundraising following a succession of exits ahead of the launch. The Italian bank has an option to acquire BS.

BS Private Equity has sold a 20 percent stake to Gruppo Banca Leonardo, an Italian bank, for an undisclosed sum, according to a statement. The firm is also launching a €600 million ($945.1 million) fundraising.

Gruppo Banca Leonardo also has an option to acquire the remaining 80 percent of BS.

BS Private Equity will retain independence for its investment decisions. The firm headed by managing partners Antonio Perricone, Paolo Baretta and Francesco Sironi, has seven other partners and 10 investment managers.

Gruppo Banca Leonardo’s mid-market captive arm’s three-man team led by Franco Cesa Bianchi will join BS Private Equity’s team.

The fund, unlike the firm’s previous efforts, will allow Italian investors to commit.

Gruppo Banca Leonardo and the partners of BS Private Equity will each commit €20 million to the fund.

Gruppo Banca Leonardo also has a larger buyout joint venture with Eurazeo, a French investment firm, called Euraleo.

The transaction is subject to the approval of the Bank of Italy and of anti-trust authorities.

BS Private Equity has invested in 67 companies during its 20 year of history. During the last four weeks BS Private Equity has sold controlling stakes in portfolio companies Sicurglobal, a security company, Radici Film, a plastic packaging company, and Klopman, a work clothing company, returning €190 million to investors from €80 million raised in 2004. This is equivalent to an average investment multiple of around 2.4 times. These deals were BS Private Equity’s first exits since 2006.

BS Private Equity’s fifth fund raised €550 million.