Need to Meet: Antoine Dréan, CEO, Palico SAS

In 1992, Antoine Dréan founded Triago, a Paris-based matchmaker that has grown to become one of the world’s leading placement agents. In 2007, he launched Mantra, an investment company focused on listed private equity and non-traditional private equity funds.

Now, with the introduction of Palico SAS, Dréan is seeking to provide an online venue where general partners and limited partners can find one another.

“It’s a matchmaking service where people can meet online to do business offline,” said Dréan, who carries the titles of founder and chief executive officer at Palico. The online service, which is not related to either of his earlier ventures, launched at the end of May with offices in Paris, London and New York and a data center in Madagascar.

The service has the sound of that “eBay for LP interests” that Steve LeBlanc called for when he was a senior managing director at the Teachers Retirement System of Texas. Dréan acknowledged the similarities. “This is a volume game,” he said. “We will be looking for a very large number of members.”

He would not disclose the number of participants in the fledgling service, but he estimated the addressable market as 25,000 entities globally, including GPs, LPs and advisers. The online platform is to serve as a marketplace not only for the primary marketing of funds but also for secondary and co-investment vehicles. The service is to have flat-fee pricing based on the number of seats a member subscribes for.

But Dréan distinguished between eBay as a marketplace where deals can be completed versus Palico, which is more a place where market participants can make new connections for deals that they can then pursue using existing strategies. The service features a secure data room where participants can post confidential documents for review, and it provides a social network for the private equity community.

Palico’s definition of private equity is quite broad, taking in buyouts, venture capital, distress investing, credit strategies, real estate, infrastructure, energy and natural resources. The service, however, will not include hedge funds, even though those managers serve the same LPs. “It’s a different industry. There are some regulatory constraints that make it not possible, at least not yet,” Dréan said. “Private equity should keep us busy for a long, long time.”

Plans for the future include the possible publication of data or indices based on members’ activity on the service, or perhaps publishing a quarterly review or white papers on issues facing the industry, but Dréan was cautious about describing Palico’s future roadmap.

“The list is quite long. It’s a question of priorities,” he said. “I think it could change the landscape quite a bit.”

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