Sagard buys Groupe Moniteur for €275m

Sagard, a €600m French-Canadian private equity fund, has acquired niche French publishing company Groupe Moniteur from Cinven, Carlyle Group and Apax Partners for €275m.

A private equity consortium comprising Cinven, Carlyle Group and Apax Partners has sold French publisher Groupe Moniteur to French-Canadian private equity fund Sagard through a €275 million ($334 million) secondary buyout. Credit Agricole Indosuez, Credit Lyonnais and ING are reported to be providing debt facilities for the deal. 

The family of Canadian billionaire Paul Desmarais teamed up with other wealthy families to create Sagard in 2002. The firm reportedly beat off competition from UK-based private equity house Permira as well as trade bidders Reed Elsevier, EMAP and WK to buy Groupe Moniteur, which publishes 18 titles for the building and local authorities sector including Le Moniteur des Travaux Public and La Gazette des Communes.

Sagard is also reported to be in talks to buy a stake of no more than three per cent in Vivarte, the French footwear and clothing retailer, from private equity firm PAI, which recently acquired a 54 percent interest in the business through a €1.2 billion public-to-private.

Groupe Moniteur was a division of Aprovia, the former business publishing division of Vivendi Universal Publishing, which was acquired by Cinven, Carlyle Group and Apax Partners in a €1.2 billion buyout in April 2002. Cinven took a 37.5 percent in the business, Carlyle 28 percent and Apax 9.5 percent. The deal also included MediMedia, VUP’s healthcare division. 

In July 2003, the owners sold Aprovia UK, the firm’s UK magazine titles, to United Business Media for €111 million. They are now reported to be seeking bids for another former VUP asset, Tests, a publisher of IT titles.

The deal was announced as news surfaced of another potential French secondary buyout involving Vivendi. Le Figaro reported that the UK’s 3i and Bridgepoint Capital have made offers to acquire a 56.5 percent stake in Keolis, the local transport subsidiary of French railway operator SNCF, from Vivendi and PAI.