France's biggest private equity shop, AXA Private Equity, has been put on the block by its parent, insurer AXA SA, a move that puts about $28 billion of PE assets in play. The decision to sell the business is at an extremely early stage, "and there is no telling what form the sale will take, whether it will be sold to a rival or if they are looking for someone to back a management buyout," said a source close to the company. Paris-based AXA SA has hired Credit Suisse Group to conduct the auction. A sale could draw interest from the larger listed private equity shops, such as Blackstone Group LP, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. LP or Carlyle Group, or from a large pension fund or money manager looking for a ready-made PE unit, according to a Paris-based PE professional. -- Sept. 13
AXA Private Equity: 2011 deal history
Photonis SAS: AXA PE buys the maker of night-vision technology from Astorg Partners. No terms. A source pegs the value at $704 million. -- announced Sept. 7
HSH Nordbank AG (47 LP interests): AXA PE and LGT Capital Partners AG buy the LP interests in the European private equity buyout bonds with an asset value of $899 million. -- announced Aug. 30
Poweo ENR: AXA PE and Direct Energie Neoen SAS buy the French renewable energy unit from Verbund AG. No terms. -- announced July 18
Citigroup Inc.: AXA PE pays $1.7 billion for Citigroup private equity assets. -- announced June 8; Greenhill & Co. LLC served as financial adviser
Spie SA: AXA PE, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice LLC and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec buy the French engineering group for $3 billion. -- announced May 31
Opodo Ltd.: AXA PE-backed Go Voyages SA and Permira-backed eDreams Group buy the online travel agent for $616 million. -- announced Feb. 9
Novacap SAS: AXA PE buys the French chemicals group from Bain Capital LLC for $324 million. -- announced Jan. 19
Succeeding at secondaries: AXA PE's man in New York
AXA PE's head of U.S. operations, Benoît Verbrugghe, wades through a stream of data on scores of private equity funds and underlying portfolio companies on any given day.
-- The Deal magazine, Oct. 18, 2010
Bidders line up for AXA Private Equity
New York money management titan BlackRock Inc. is considering a bid of around £300 million ($403.7 million) for AXA Private Equity, according to one industry source, while private equity colossus Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. LP and a Singapore sovereign wealth fund are among the other international investors identified in media reports as likely first-round bidders.
French insurer AXA SA's surprise decision to put its PE unit up for sale has also triggered speculation that a big local player, possibly Paris-listed buyout house Eurazeo SA, is preparing a "patriotic bid" to keep AXA within the "Hexagon," as the French media like to call their country. Eurazeo declined to comment, but a source close to the situation pointed out that while the firm had indicated an interest in leading the consolidation of the sector, it was busy digesting other acquisitions. -- Sept. 30