Exclusive: Azulis holds €120m first close for Fund V

The Paris-based firm is targeting €200m and is expected to wrap up fundraising later this year

Azulis Capital, a French mid-market firm, has held a €120 million first close for its fifth buyout fund, PEI has learnt.

The closing was held last week, according to two sources familiar with the matter. The majority of existing investors re-upped, and the firm also attracted one new investor, one source said.

The fund, which came to market last September is targeting €200 million with a €250 million hard-cap. It is expected that Azulis will wrap up fundraising before year-end, the sources added.

It is understood that Acanthus Advisers is supporting Azulis with the fundraising. Both Acanthus and Azulis declined to comment.

Azulis’s fund V will target companies with enterprise values between €20 million and €100 million. The firm typically invests in food, business services, retail, consumer goods and healthcare sectors using a buy-and-build approach.

The fund will be of a similar size to Azulis’s Fund IV, a €225 million vehicle which was raised in 2010. Fund IV has invested in 16 companies and is fully deployed, although it still has capital available for add-on acquisitions.

Last year, the fund made three investments; Father & Sons, a textile retail business; Ital Express, a spare parts dealer, and CEME, an electricity and cooling systems installations business. The companies in the current fund “are growing quite nicely”, sources told PEI in September. Azulis has so far made three exits from that fourth fund. The distributed to paid-in capital (DPI) for Fund IV currently stands at 25 percent.

Azulis’s Fund V will be led by three new managing partners – Christine Mariette, Yann Collignon and Pierre Jourdain – since three of Azulis’s senior partners are retiring in the coming years. The firm’s current managing partner Franck Boget will retire in 2015, while the other managing partner, Michel Rowan, will retire after Azulis V’s investment period. The three new managing partners have transitioned into their new roles since 2009. They have been with the firm for 20 years and worked together throughout. The three were part of Azulis's original incarnation, Banexi Capital Partners, which spun out in 2000 from Banexi, the captive investment arm of BNP Paribas.

The team took full control of the management company in 2009, and rebranded the firm as Azulis Capital. Azulis joins a number of French-based GPs on the fundraising trail. Activa Capital is raising €320 million for its Fund III. The firm held a €200 million first close in December 2013, while in the large cap space, LBO France is attempting to raise €1 billion for White Knight IX.