Equistone seals third French buyout of the year

The UK firm’s latest fund, which reached a final close on €1.5bn last January, is now 36% deployed.

Equistone Partners Europe has invested in the Charles et Alice Group, a French maker of fruit desserts. 

The transaction is part of a secondary MBO alongside French bank-funded investor CM-CIC Capital Finance, shareholder in the business since 2007, and the company’s management team. No financial details were disclosed on the transaction. 

Charles et Alice was formed in 2010, through the acquisition of Hero France, a manufacturer of fruit dessert without added sugar and baby products, by Charles Faraud, which sells processed fruit and vegetables to the food services industry. 

The group now employs 350 staff across two production sites, and its product range is primarily made of light, no added sugar and organic fruit-based desserts.  It generated €120 million in sales last year.

It is Equistone’s third French investment since the beginning of 2013 – in contrast to 2012, which saw it refrain from making acquisitions in the country. The firm had previously bought Meilleurtaux.com, a mortgage advisory business, in April, and acquired agro-food equipment provider Bretèche Industrie last March. 

The deal also marks the 12th investment by Equistone’s Fund IV, which reached its final close on €1.5 billion last January. The vehicle is now 36 percent deployed, according to a source close to the firm.