Argos Soditic gets into mezz

The new fund, Argos Expansion, will allow the private equity group to diversify its growth financing activities to include sponsorless LBOs, owner buyouts and expansion capital. Argos Expansion will meet the growing demand from European mid-market companies for a structured equity product, allowing them to finance growth without relinquishing control or diluting their equity stakes.

The new fund targeting €150m will have its own independent management team led by Olivier Bossan, a specialist in mezzanine and expansion capital and former managing director of IDI Mezzanine.

Argos Expansion will invest amounts ranging from €5 to €15m, mostly in the form of mezzanine and minority capital in operations involving European companies worth €15m to €100m.

“We decided to set up Argos Expansion to better respond to the needs of entrepreneur managers today,” said Gilles Mougenot, president of Argos Soditic. “The new fund will allow us to offer two different solutions for LBOs: classical majority leveraged buyouts, or expansion financing through sponsorless mezzanine or minority equity positions.”

The rising use of mezzanine debt in sponsorless operations reflects the maturity of the European LBO market and is well-adapted to situations where the founding managers of a company need long-term financing but want to remain majority shareholders.

At the moment, there are few independent mezzanine funds in Europe,

but the high and stable returns these funds offer investors may encourage a spate of new entrants to the market.

Argos Expansion will benefit from the high visibility of Argos Soditic, which has been an active player in the European LBO market for the past 18 years. The new fund will also be able to rely on the group’s presence in Switzerland and Italy, as well as the market experience of Argos Soditic’s partners, who will become members of the investment committee alongside Bossan’s management team.