Paris-based European alternative asset manager Ardian has announced a final close for its fourth-generation private debt platform, Ardian Private Debt IV, on its hard-cap of €3 billion, surpassing a €2.5 billion target.
The firm had raised the commingled fund part of the platform by the middle of last year and has spent the time since agreeing and finalising separately managed accounts.
Ardian’s third-generation platform, Ardian Private Debt III, closed on €2 billion in 2015, while the second version closed on €1.5 billion in 2010 and the first on €775 million in 2006.
The firm said platform four has 90 investors across 15 countries in Europe, Asia and North America, including insurers, pensions, banks, endowments, foundations and government agencies. It said demand had strengthened in Asia in particular, as well as North America.
Ardian has declined to name specific investors in platform four, although PDI data lists one of them as La Cassa dei Dottori Commercialisti, the Italian public pension fund. Also according to PDI data, investors in the third platform included French insurance giant AXA and UK public pension fund South Yorkshire Pensions Authority.
Formed in 2005, Ardian Private Debt is one of Europe’s most experienced players in the private debt market. Focused on the mid-market, its strategic roots lie in mezzanine investment before branching out into unitranche and – in the latest fund for the first time – stretched senior.
Asked why stretched senior now becomes part of the Ardian offering, managing director and head of private debt Mark Brenke told PDI: “It’s an area where banks have still been active but are now retrenching. The advantages that private debt funds have in other parts of the market, such as flexibility, speed of delivery and the ability to provide additional finance, are also relevant here, and there is investor appetite for it.”
Brenke said Ardian had sufficient demand to have raised more than its hard-cap but felt the amount of capital raised matched the market opportunity, with Ardian typically writing cheques of between €100 million to €200 million for non-cyclical, cash-generative businesses in sectors such as business-to-business and healthcare. Shortly after closing the platform, the firm announced it had arranged a senior financing for the acquisition of French radiotherapy centre CCO Perpignan by European family investment firm Telemos Capital and Swiss cancer care firm MedEuropa.
Brenke said he partly attributed demand for the platform to Ardian’s length of time in the market, as one of the few European investors in private debt to pre-date the global financial crisis. As LPs anticipate the likelihood of more challenging conditions in the years ahead, they are more inclined to support firms with a track record through market cycles.
Ardian declined to comment on the management fees and carry arrangements associated with the platform.