Side Letter: Ardian ascent, Abraaj + KPMG, GP (un)interest

Ardian's massive fundraising year, Naqvi back in court, saying no to GP minority stake investments. Here’s today's brief, for our valued subscribers only.

Just happened

Ardian on the up

The firm has released the details of its 2018 activity – and what a year it was. The French giant gained 180 investors and more than tripled its fundraising activity to an impressive $28 billion during the year. Secondaries deployment almost doubled to $11.1 billion as its US fund of funds team had its best-ever year. Word on the street is the firm is nearing its $18 billion total for its latest secondaries programme. We can only say: chapeau!

Abraaj + KPMG = ?

Abraaj Group founder Arif Naqvi will appear again at Westminster Magistrates Court today for his case management hearing and we’ll be there to bring you the latest. Naqvi’s appearance comes as the FT reports (paywall) that KPMG, which exonerated the firm just weeks after the scandal broke, had close ties to Abraaj.

Former CFO Ashish Dave was a partner and head of deal advisory at the auditing firm’s Lower Gulf unit, his LinkedIn profile shows, and we understand the chief exec of KPMG’s Lower Gulf arm had a son working at Abraaj. Read more about the details of the case against Dave, Naqvi and four other former executives here.

Thanks but no thanks

Not all firms are open to minority interest investments: Wynnchurch Capital has turned down 10 offers by GPs to acquire a minority stake over the past few years, president and managing partner John Hatherly told delegates at sister title Buyouts Insider’s PartnerConnect Midwest conference in Chicago on Tuesday. If the firm were to sell, it would be to its next-gen leaders. Research from PitchBook identified the firms most likely to be targeted by GP interest funds as capital continues to flood into the space.

New KKR France head

The firm has tapped a former Sun Capital managing director for its newly created head of France position. From 1 September, Jérôme Nommé will lead private equity investing in France and work with its sector teams across all investment platforms, including real estate, infrastructure and credit, according to a statement.

Nommé spent eight years at Sun Capital, where he led sourcing and execution for multiple Western European investments. It comes two years after KKR’s Europe head, Johannes Huth, relocated from London to Paris, citing Brexit as a leading factor. Advisory firm Campbell Lutyens is also laying the groundwork for a new office on the continent in light of the UK’s impending exit from the EU.


It pays to be private. Endowments and foundations with a larger allocation to private investments have significantly outperformed their peers, according to research from Cambridge Associates. Top-decile institutional investors had a median allocation of 40 percent or more in private investments. Those with a 20-year average allocation of at least 15 percent generated an 8.1 percent median annualised return, 160 basis points higher than institutions with a less than five percent allocation.

Compensation. Looking for valuable employee compensation data? PEI is partnering with Holt and MM&K on the 2019 PE/VC compensation survey, released later this year. The survey is for CFOs, directors of human resources or managing general partners to fill out on behalf of all the employees of their firms. Participants receive a free executive summary. All data submitted is, of course, completely confidential and anonymised. For more details on how to participate, contact Dan Gunner at

Dig deeper

Washington’s capitalWashington State Investment Board has approved $650 million in commitments, including $350 million to Apax X. Here’s a breakdown of the $134.7 billion US pension’s alternatives allocations. For more information on WSIB, as well as more than 6,700 other institutions, check out the PEI database.

He said it

“If you have a $10 billion fund with 14 principal-level junior partners and three of them leave, you have no idea if it’s going to improve the organisation or cripple it.”

The head of a US pension talks to PEI about the dangers of dealing with mega-funds.

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Today’s letter was prepared by Isobel MarkhamAdam LeRod JamesAlex Lynn and Dan Gunner.

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