Ardian agrees €255m Ceva loan

The fully underwritten subordinated loan is the third transaction the firm formerly know as AXA Private Equity has conducted with French veterinary group Ceva Santé Animale.

French alternatives firm Ardian has provided a €255 million subordinated financing facility to support the recapitalisation of veterinary health company Ceva Santé Animale, it confirmed in a statement on Tuesday. 

The financing supports the reshaping of Ceva's capital structure, which saw Singapore’s state investment firm Temasek, and China-based asset manager CDH Investments, invest in the business for the first time, while Sagard Private Equity and Euromezzanine reinvested in the business. Nixen Partners exited its investment in the business as part of the deal. 

Following the recapitalisation, management and the company's employees now hold a majority stake in the business. Temasek is now the largest minority shareholder. 

The new shareholder structure will contribute to the next stage in Ceva’s international expansion, notably in Asia, and further support its aim to become a top-five player in the animal health industry by 2020, Ardian said in the statement. 

Guillaume Chinardet, managing director at Ardian, said: “This is our third consecutive transaction with Ceva, after a mezzanine investment in 2007 and additional growth financing in 2012. It epitomises our emphasis on partnerships and long-term development, and is a testament to our ability to provide continued financing support to our portfolio companies.”

The debt package supporting the deal was noteworthy because it featured a substantial covenant-lite loan, which at around €1 billion was one of the largest European cov-lite financings. The loan also has a double-luxco structure, which helps the senior lenders to enforce the security and avoid a potentially lengthy restructuring through the French courts should the company default.

As well as the €255 million facility from Ardian, the financing package included a €700 million term loan B, a €50 million revolver and a €100 million capital expenditure facility, banking sources told Reuters back in February when news of the deal first emerged.

The financing was also said to have aggressive total leverage of seven times EBITDA, with senior leverage expected to be 5.25-5.5 times. 

Ardian had not responded to a request for further detail on the debt package at the time of going to press.