Apax Readies Fifth French Fund

Apax Partners & Cie, the French link in Apax’s international network, at press time was preparing a first closing for Apax France V on some FFr 800 million.

The vehicle, which forms part of the Apax Europe III programme, has an overall target of FFr 1.2 billion (ecu 180 million), compared with the FFr 800 million target set for the 1996 Apax France IV fund.

Lisa Ismail, who is coordinating Apax & Cie’s fund-raising effort, said that most existing investors in Apax’s French funds were likely to reinvest in the fifth vehicle. Domestic investors accounted for around 30% of Apax’s previous French fund. However, the group expects to draw a higher proportion of the new fund’s capital from French investors. Lisa Ismail reported a high level of interest from domestic groups, a phenomenon partially attributable to the recent change in regulations governing insurance companies’ investments. Fund raising for Apax France V began in June, and a final closing is expected before the year end.

In a parallel exercise, Altamir & Cie, the quoted investment company Apax designed to accommodate private and small institutional investors, in July raised FFr 400 million for investment alongside Apax France V.

Altamir was launched on France’s Second Marche in December 1995 with a capitalisation of FFr 81.5 million. On 7 July, the vehicle moved to the Nouveau Marche. The FFr 400 million raised through Altamir’s successful ORA (Obligations Remboursables en Actions) issue represented the largest fund raising to date carried out on the Nouveau Marche.

Altamir aims to provide its investors with a 15% annual return derived from investments made in parallel with Apax’s French funds. To date, it has invested almost 80% of its original capital in 19 companies alongside Apax France IV, which reached full investment this June.

The increase in Altamir’s capital will enable the vehicle to invest more substantial amounts alongside Apax France V; some six deals are already lined up for the second half of this year.

Apax V and, by extension, Altamir will conform to the Apax “house” fund model. The group concentrates primarily on investment in the healthcare and biotechnology, specialist distribution, information technology, telecommunications and electronics and media sectors. The individual Apax country funds are diversified by stage, typically investing 50% of their capital in buyouts and buy-ins, 25% in start-up and early-stage deals and 25% in development capital, turnaround and restructuring opportunities.

Like the UK and German components of Apax Europe II, Apax France V will be able to invest as much as 25% of its capital outside its domestic market in parallel with its sister funds.