Exits – Advent’s Elior joint venture comes to market

France’s leading concession and contract catering business, Elior, in March competed a 350 million IPO on the Paris Bourse’s Premier Marche, capitalising the company at 1.125 billion ($1.04 billion).

Elior was developed through a 1997 industrial joint venture investment between Advent International and Bercy Management. In a complex Ffr2.8 billion (427 million) deal, Advent International and Bercy formed a joint vehicle, Eliance to incorporate both Bercy’s own concession business and HRC, France’s leading concession catering player, which Eliance acquired from Charterhouse Development Capital. At around the same time, BC Partners invested for a 20 per cent stake in Bercy Management. An Advent International team led by managing director John Singer provided two rounds of funding to grow the concession catering side of the business while Elior and its investors developed the contract catering side.

The group restructured its capital base last year, with Advent swapping its holding in Eliance for shares in the Bercy parent company, now known as Elior. The restructuring reunited the concession and contract catering sides of the business in preparation for the planned flotation. The company is established as France’s number one in both contract and concession catering, and both sides of the business have expanded internationally: Elior is active in Belgium, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK and ranks as Europe’s third largest contracted food service business by sales volume.

Advent plans to sell a maximum of one third of its shareholding in Elior, reflecting its belief in the group’s future potential for growth. John Singer describes the investment in Elior as; “A prime example of Advent’s strategy of joint venturing with corporate partners to make creative investments that build long-term shareholder value.”