France’s AXA Raising Asia Fund

France’s AXA is setting up a $300 million venture fund for Asia to be run out of Singapore, PE Week has learned.

Luc Lechelle, managing director of venture funds at AXA Private Equity in Paris, says that the new fund will invest in telecom, life sciences and IT companies throughout Asia.

The firm is moving Ivan Bernard Brunel from its London office to Singapore to direct the new fund.

Lechelle says that initially the fund’s efforts will be strategic, helping current portfolio companies in France enter markets in Asia. “Afterwards, our goal is to invest in China and India by the start of 2006,” Lechelle says.

AXA, a French multinational insurer, is the parent of AXA Private Equity, which manages $9 billion in private equity assets. AXA will be a minority investor in the new venture fund, which is the firm’s first entry into direct investments in Asia. The firm primarily invests in Europe and the United States.

In describing his group’s plans for VC in Asia, Lechelle says that his group is entering the region cautiously on a “step-by-step” basis so that it can learn more about the region and its markets. Lechelle says his group may be initially cautious about entering Asian VC over the next two to five years, but the long-term goal is for AXA Private Equity to be one of the top five firms in the region.

Unrelated to the new $300 million effort, Christophe Florin, managing director of AXA Private Equity, recently told PE Week it is planning a $200 million Asian fund-of-funds (see PE Week 5/16/05).