AXA backs French B2B information business

The French buyout firm has bought a controlling stake in Altares with a plan to support the business’ growth through acquisitions.

AXA Private Equity, the private equity arm of the French insurance giant has bought Altares Group, an independent French business to business information provider.

Gérard Jeulin, who held a controlling interest and was chairman of Altares, is retaining a 30 percent stake and will be chairman of the newly created supervisory board. The existing management team will take an equity stake, led by Thierry Asmar, who will be appointed chairman of the management board. 

Formed from the 2004 merger of the BIL Legal Information Database and Dun & Bradstreet France, Altares posted 2007 revenues of €54 million ($86 million) with 300 employees.

Altares offers French companies information on the changes to companies’ legal information; new customer prospecting for sales growth; credit rating and solvency financial information and non-financial ratings.

François Jerphagnon and Baudouin d’Hérouville, both directors of AXA Private Equity, said in a statement: “We want to support a top-quality management team which comes with a proven track record of success. We will support them in their growth strategy, which may include new acquisitions.”

The head of AXA Private Equity, Dominique Senequier, hit the headlines yesterday with her call for a voluntary code of conduct in Europe to improve the transparency and ethics of how profits from private equity deals are split between investors, managers and staff.

She told the UK newspaper, Financial Times: “Public opinion is demanding more transparency and ethics on management packages, so we need to be ready for this.” Details of the management's stake were not disclosed on the Antares deal.