France’s WCP makes debut investment

The private equity vehicle of Serge Weinberg, former chairman of Pinault Printemps Redoute, has acquired a 70 percent stake in a Paris-based pharmaceuticals business.

French private equity firm Weinberg Capital Partners (WCP) has made its first investment since being formed last June with the acquisition of a majority stake in Pharma Omniun International.

WCP has purchased a 70 percent stake in Paris-based pharmaceutical business Pharma Omnium for an undisclosed sum. The transaction is the first investment from its debut vehicle, WCP1, which closed on €420 million ($540 million) in July 2005.

WCP was advised on the transaction by law firm Saurrau Thomas Couderc. Pharma Omnium was advised by Grant Thornton Corporate Finance and CMS-Francis Lefebvre.

Henri Gagnaire, partner at WCP, said in an interview that the investment would facilitate Pharma Omnium’s acquisition of Laboratoires Biodim, which owns pharmaceutical brands Témesta, Séresta, Uteplex, Colprone and Lederthrexate. According to WCP, Biodim posted 2005 sales of €43.7 million.

Gagnaire said that the Pharma Omnium deal fits WCP’s buy-and-build investment strategy and both WCP and Pharma Omnium founder Frédéric Champavere, former president of Janssen-Cilag and Lilly in France, “are already looking at complementary positions”.

Gagnaire added that Champavere and co-founder Philippe Pasdelou, former president of Madalus in France, had already acquired JCD, a French specialist in dermo-esthetics, through subsidiary Derma-Omnium, in January 2006 for an undisclosed sum.

WCP was established in July of last year by Serge Weinberg, former chairman of the management board of Pinault Printemps Redoute (PPR), a French luxury goods and retail distribution group, where he spent 15 years. Weinberg heads a team of ten professionals, including senior partners Gagnaire, Guillaume d’Angerville and Philippe Klocanas.

Paris-based WCP closed its debut vehicle last year with commitments from PPR, Caisse des Depots, AXA, AFF, CNP and Weinberg himself. Gagnier said that the fund targets business with enterprise values between €40 million and  €400 million and expects to make between 10 and 12 investments in total.