Natixis acquires Euro Private Equity

The addition of the €1bn Swiss fund of funds to the French bank’s private equity unit will boost its asset under management to €5bn.

Natixis Private Equity, the buyout arm of French lender Natixis, has bought Geneva-based Euro Private Equity. 

The group has taken a 51 percent participation in the Swiss fund of funds, according to reports. The move will increase Natixis’ assets under management to a total of €5 billion, and raise its headcount to 130. 

“The acquisition of Euro Private Equity will complement the ‘multi-affiliates strategy’ followed by Natixis in its third party investing activities,” commented Dominique Sabassier, CEO of Natixis Private Equity. 

Euro Private Equity invests on behalf of institutional and private clients, including some of Switzerland’s largest pension funds. Founded in 1994, it manages around €1 billion of assets and is invested in nearly 300 funds. 

Its acquisition by Natixis comes as the bank continues to build up its private equity capabilities by snapping up direct and fund of funds managers. Its buyout arm already comprises Naxicap Partners, Alliance Entreprendre and Seventure, whilst its fund of funds division is formed of Dahlia Partners, Caspian Private Equity and Eagle Asia Partners.

Natixis' head office 
in Charenton-le-Pont, 
near Paris

The revamped Euro PE unit will be headed by Benoit de Kerleau, former managing partner of Dahlia Partners. He will be joining Eric Deram and Marc-Antoine Voisard, who already preside over the firm’s 10-strong investment team. 

The bank’s strategy contrasts with recent moves by a number of other major lenders and insurance groups in the country, which have largely decided to disengage from private equity in reaction to tightened capital requirements imposed by Brussels. 

French firm AXA Private Equity bought its independence from its insurance parent AXA in March, whilst banking group BNP Paribas spun-off its green energy buyout arm in January. Paris-based insurer Groupama auctioned off its private equity unit the same month to fund of funds ACG.  

The trend is consistent with similar shake-ups on both sides of the Atlantic, where lenders comprising Bank of America, Citigroup and Lloyds have recently been pressured to sell their private equity portfolios to raise fresh capital. 

Natixis was formed in 2006 through the merger of the asset management and investment banking divisions of Natexis Banque Populaire and IXIS. The two main shareholders, Banque Populaire and Caisse d’Epargne, own more than 70 percent of Natixis. 

As of August 2012, the lender’s fund of funds activity was complemented by around €500 million invested in direct private equity and small and medium sized companies.