Ardian leads €730m Nordics GP-led

The GP-led deal by Norvestor Equity comes during a slowdown caused by a stubborn gap between the pricing expectations of buyers and sellers.

Ardian has made a rare foray into GP-led secondaries by backing a process on a Nordics-focused buyout fund.

Investors in Norvestor VII, a 2016-vintage fund managed by Norvestor Equity, were given the option to roll into a continuation fund or sell their holdings to a group of investors led by the Paris-headquartered secondaries firm, according to a statement.

Eurazeo, Northleaf Capital Partners and Rothschild Merchant Bank‘s Five Arrows unit were among the other investors in the continuation vehicle, which closed on €730 million, including €150 million of follow-on capital. Evercore advised on the deal.

The four assets in the continuation vehicle are campsite operator United Camping Holding, energy sourcing business Veni Energy Holding, compressed air provider Sperre Compressors Holdings and systems integration business NetNordic Holding.

The new vehicle “enables us to support the long-term growth trajectories of these four exceptional portfolio companies, while at the same time providing our Fund VII investors with the optionality of obtaining liquidity at attractive returns”, said managing partner Lars Grinde in the statement.

Other minority investors sold their stakes in addition to Fund VII LPs. It is unclear how many sold and how many rolled. Norvestor did not respond to a request for further details.

Norvestor VII raised NKr4.9 billion ($490 million; €494 million) by final close in February 2016, according to PEI data, from LPs including AP Fonden 6 and Norwegian state-backed PE investor Argentum. The firm has €2.1 billion in assets under management and targets mid-sized Nordic companies with revenues of €25 million to €250 million.

Ardian has typically focused on the LP portfolio market, only targeting GP-led deals with managers it knows well and in assets it has strong conviction about, Secondaries Investor has noted. It has led GP-led processes on funds managed by General Atlantic and New Mountain Capital in the past 18 months.

The firm is in market with its ninth flagship secondaries fund, targeting $15 billion, and was expecting a more than $10 billion first close in the autumn, Secondaries Investor reported in July.

The close of this deal comes during a quiet period for the GP-led secondaries market. Second-quarter private asset valuations are proving to be relatively consistent with the first, which is fuelling a bid-ask spread as secondaries buyers wait for steeper discounts to reflect the decline of public markets, Secondaries Investor noted last month.