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AXA PE makes Berment co-head of private debt

Managing director Olivier Berment will lead the French group’s private debt business alongside Cécile Mayer-Lévi.

Olivier Berment, a managing director at AXA Private Equity, has been promoted to co-head of the group’s private debt arm as the firm looks to increase its investment in debt instruments further.

He will work alongside Cécile Mayer-Lévi, with the pair reporting to Vincent Gombault, a member of AXA PE’s executive board and managing director of funds of funds and private debt.

Berment’s promotion comes 11 years after he joined the French firm. Initially, he worked in the group’s turnaround and recovery unit, before helping to launch its mezzanine business in 2005. That unit has since evolved into AXA PE’s private debt arm.

AXA PE has also created a private debt strategic committee comprising Berment, Mayer-Lévi and fellow managing director Christophe Vulliez. Their task will be to develop the group’s unitranche financing activity, a form of financing that involves both senior and subordinated debt instruments.

Last year, the team provided about €400 million in unitranche facilities to companies including Unither Pharmaceuticals, FDS Group and Biomnis. AXA PE claimed that represented more than two thirds of all unitranche issuance In France in 2011.

“In an environment of scarce credit, the appointment of Olivier Berment as co-head of private debt reflects the increasing importance of unitranche financing,” Gombault said in a statement. “The fact that we now have two joint heads of our Private Debt business demonstrates its high strategic importance to AXA Private Equity.”