Ardian hits €2bn for private debt strategy

The former private investment arm of AXA insurance company has surpassed the figure raised for its second private debt fund by €500m.

Private investment firm Ardian has raised €2 billion for its latest private debt fund, the firm said.

The fund has amassed commitments from a global investor base including insurance companies and pension funds, as previously reported, and is an increase on its second debt fund, which raised €1.5 billion in 2008. Half of the investors are new to Ardian, the firm said.

Ardian has also garnered a commitment from insurance company AXA and other managed accounts, PDI understands.

Forty percent of the capital is deployed through nine investments. Most recently, the firm has arranged unitranche financing for Charlesbank Capital Partners’ acquisition of Six Degrees Group, a London-based provider of data services, and Cathay Capital’s acquisition of Cenexi, a French pharmaceutical company. Both transactions took place in July.

Olivier Berment, head of private debt and managing director, said: “We partner with companies for the long term and will continue to work with sponsors and management teams looking to create value through growth rather than simple financial engineering.”

Ardian aims to use the fund to provide flexible financing to private equity-backed companies across Europe, with size ranging from €40 million to €300 million. The fund will have the ability to hold both unitranche and subordinated financings.

Vincent Gombault, member of the executive committee and head of funds of funds and private debt, said: “Achieving this increase in the size compared to the previous fund is a significant accomplishment … As the market matures, private debt will take an increasingly significant role in global finance. We are very well placed to play a big part in this.”

Ardian launched its first private debt fund – targeting mezzanine investments – in 2005. Since then, it has arranged €500 million of financing per year. The private debt team has expanded in the last 12 months with the hiring of six people in Paris and London, the firm said.

The 15-strong team has strengthened its presence in the UK market with the recruitment of Mark Brenke as managing director in London, and the appointment of Guillaume Chinardet in Paris, who joined the company in 2007, as head of private debt France.

Ardian spun out from Paris-based insurance company AXA two years ago. Founded in 1996, Ardian invests in private equity and infrastructure and has recently launched a real estate unit. The firm manages and advises on $50 billion of assets in Europe, North America and Asia.