WL Ross, IPE launch €250m French fund

The US and French private equity firms have announced plans to raise €250m to invest in mid-market leveraged buyouts in both the public and private sectors.

Investors in Private Equity (IPE), the Paris-based private equity firm headed by Philippe Nguyen, has teamed up with US turnaround firm WL Ross to launch a €250 million ($309 million) buyout fund targeting the French market.


The IPE Expansion Fund will target mid-market buyouts mainly in France, both government-owned enterprises and corporate carve-outs.


“We believe there is excellent potential for middle market medium-term industrial development transactions in Europe, especially France,” said Wilbur Ross, chairman of WL Ross, who will be chairman of the investment committee of the newly-launched fund.


Nguyen, who will be chief executive officer, founded IPE in 2002 with four other partners and three associates, after eight years as head of private equity activities, first at Caisse des Depots et Consignations (CDC) and then at Credit Lyonnais.


WL Ross & Co, based in New York, has sponsored more than $2.5 billion of private investments in the United States, Japan and Korea since its founding in 2000 by Wilbur Ross, 66, who was previously executive managing director of Rothschild Inc.


The firm's most notable transaction was the creation of International Steel Group which acquired three steel companies, Bethlehem, LTV and Acme, to become the second largest US integrated steel company with an equity market capitalisation of over $4 billion.


Nguyen said last year that he was planning to raise a private equity fund targeting the French mid-market.


His firm completed its first large investment in April last year with the acquisition of a majority interest in the €500 million ERMEWA Group as part of a long term partnership with SNCF, the French railways operator.


With the new fund, IPE and WL Ross will be competing against fellow French houses active in the mid market such as Alpha Associes, Astorg, Atria, Chequers Capital and LBO France.


Paris based Global Private Equity is acting as exclusive financial advisor.