Ardian closes largest ever secondaries programme

ASF VIII has raised $19bn in blindpool- and co-investment commitments, making it the third-largest pool of PE capital yet raised.

Ardian has held the final close on one of the largest private equity programmes ever.

The Paris-headquartered alternatives manager has collected $14 billion for Ardian Secondary Fund VIII and $5 billion for co-investments, according to a statement.

The fund attracted more than 275 investors from nearly 40 countries, the statement notes. These include the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, which committed $500 million, Florida Retirement System Trust Fund, which committed $200 million, Cathay Life Insurance, Fubon Life Insurance and State of Michigan Retirement Systems, according to Secondaries Investor data.

In May 2018, Secondaries Investor reported that ASF VIII was coming to market targeting $12 billion for its main fund. 2015-vintage predecessor ASF VII collected a combined $14 billion, $10.8 billion of which was blindpool fund capital.

Benoît Verbrugghe, head of Ardian US, said in the statement: “Over more than two decades, we have built a vast database of funds and underlying portfolio companies, which gives us a unique insight into the private equity sector. Ardian is well placed to take advantage of the secondary market’s increasingly important role in global finance.”

“In the current environment, the secondaries market has a crucial role to play in providing institutional investors with liquidity. It is a vital tool for pension funds and investors in how they allocate investments in private equity,” added Vincent Gombault, head of fund of funds.

At $14 billion, ASF VIII is tied with Lexington Capital Partners IX as the largest secondaries fund ever raised. The $19 billion raised by the ASF VIII programme, including co-investments, places it third on the list of largest pools of private equity capital ever raised. Only Blackstone Capital Partners VIII, at $26 billion, and Apollo Investment Fund IX, at $24.7 billion, are larger.

ASF VIII charges 15 percent carried interest on an 8 percent preferred return, Secondaries Investor reported in November. The fund’s management fee is 1 percent of committed capital during the investment period, which drops to 0.75 percent of the lesser of the fund’s net asset value and the acquisition costs of the fund’s assets.

The fund is seeking a net multiple of 1.6x and a net internal rate of return of 16 percent, according to a broadcast of the University of Houston System’s August board of regents meeting.

Deals Ardian has backed in the past year include the acquisition of a $5 billion portfolio from Japan’s Norinchukin Bank, the largest ever portfolio transaction.