AXA increases Capzanine shareholding for growth drive

Capzanine hopes to expand its access to international investors through strong links with AXA’s investment management business.

AXA has increased its stake in French mezzanine specialist Capzanine to help the private debt manager’s international development.

As part of the deal, AXA France has acquired an additional 22 percent stake in Capzanine from alternative assets manager Eurazeo for €82 million, including fund shares. An additional capital increase brings the total combined holding of AXA France and AXA Investment Managers to 46 percent. Capzanine’s management team will hold the remaining 54 percent of the company’s equity.

Capzanine said the investment will open its capital up to a larger number of managers and give it significant resources to aid its pan-European development. AXA France has been an investor in Capzanine funds since 2005 and has committed to increasing its investments in the firm’s next generation vehicles.

AXA IM will also work with Capzanine to establish a private debt distribution partnership, which will include helping Capzanine build relationships with pension funds, insurers and family offices from around the world.

Pascal Christory, chief investment officer at AXA Group, said: “This collaboration strengthens our access to innovative, diversifying products and stable, attractive returns through the proven performance of a highly reputed management company. These investments allow AXA companies to participate in the financing of the growth of the European real economy.”

Laurent Bénard, managing partner at Capzanine, added: “Over the years, we have built a unique network that enables us to identify financing opportunities for small and mid-cap companies and be selective in our investment decisions, while maintaining a sustained pace of capital deployment and an attractive yield premium for our investors. Our platform combining complementary equity and debt expertise enables us to generate significant synergies and a high level of proprietary dealflow.”

Eurazeo said the sale of its shares in Capzanine gave it a 3x return on its initial investment made in October 2015.

Since 2004, Capzanine has raised four mezzanine vehicles, with the most recent, Capzanine 4, raising €350 million in 2016. It also launched a special situations vehicle in 2018.