Equistone secures French insurance deal

The investment was made from Equistone’s Fund IV, which is now more than 50% deployed.

Equistone Partners Europe has bought a majority stake in Finaxy Group, a French insurance broker, according to a statement.

Financial details of the transaction were undisclosed. Pan-European-focused Equistone typically invests between €25 million and €125 million of equity in businesses with enterprise values of between €50 million and €300 million.

Finaxy, which was founded in 2008, provides commercial and personal insurance services to approximately 8,000 companies and 55,000 individuals. It employs 170 people across 19 brands. The business was first backed by a family office in 2009, which provided funding for an add-on acquisition and has supported a further 16 acquisitions in the last five years.

Equistone, which has bought the majority stake from the family office, plans to support Finaxy’s growth strategy in niche markets, both in France and internationally. The company is currently the 12th largest French insurance broker, but hopes to break into the top 10.

The firm bought the stake using capital from its Fund IV, a £1.5 billion, 2011-vintage. With this latest investment, this fund is now approximately 55 percent deployed, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Equistone declined to comment beyond the statement.

Last month, Equistone acquired a majority stake in Caseking Group, a German-based online supplier of gaming and PC components. In February, it sold its stake in APEM, a global manufacturer of industrial switches and joysticks to ICG.

The investment in Finaxy marks Equistone’s first French investment this year. Last year, the firm completed four acquisitions in the country – an illustration that the market conditions in France have improved, Guillaume Jacqueau, a managing partner at Equistone, told Private Equity International in a recent interview.

“We have two to three far-advanced deal opportunities in France. The pipeline is definitely looking better than a few years ago. France’s GDP is now growing. It clearly could be better, but the economy is recovering. And that’s why I feel activity in France is very likely to pick up this year,” he said.

For a more in-depth look at the French buyout market, click here to read our annual country report which features in PEI’s April issue.