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Ardian raises $9bn for secondaries

The mega-fund held a $5bn interim close in March.

Paris-based Ardian, formerly known as AXA Private Equity, has collected $9 billion for its sixth secondaries vehicle, according to a statement.

The firm started marketing the vehicle last October just after it completed its spin-out from parent insurer AXA Group.

Ardian’s Secondary Fund VI held an interim $5 billion close in March, having held a $3.5 billion first close last December.

It is unclear how much capital came from Ardian’s existing investors. The firm said it attracted major institutional investors including pension funds, government agencies and family offices. Approximately 40 percent of investors came from North America, 21 percent came from the Middle East and Asia and 39 percent LPs came from Europe, according to an Ardian spokesperson.

Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System (TCRS) committed $75 million to the fund, according to minutes from an investment committee meeting last November. Michigan State and the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System also backed the fund.

AXA, which still owns a 23 percent stake in Ardian’s management company, was also expected to make a commitment in line with its agreement to provide €4.8 billion to Ardian funds through 2018, PEI reported earlier.

On top of the $9 billion for secondaries, Ardian also raised $1 billion for primary commitments. The firm had a similar structure when it raised its prior secondaries fund, which closed on $7.1 billion in June 2012. That vehicle, which was 92 percent deployed as of October 2013, raised a $900 million for a sidecar that acted as a primary fund of funds.

Fund VI is expected to do roughly 15-20 deals, according to TCRS documents. Since the start of the year, Ardian has already deployed more than $2 billion in three secondary transactions. Ardian acquired buyout and growth portfolios from a financial institution for $600 million and has been chosen by Temasek, a Singapore sovereign wealth fund, to provide independent valuation and manage their new co-investment platform holding 36 private equity funds.

Between September 2012 and December 2013, Ardian deployed more than $4.3 billion in approximately 21 secondary transactions. It believes there are “unprecedented opportunities for high-quality secondary deal flow”, the firm said.

“However, the industry is evolving and there are fewer players with the necessary resources to be able to keep pace and truly deliver value for investors. We predict that the LPs will concentrate on GPs in secondaries with the best track record,” Benoit Verbrugghe, managing partner and head of Ardian USA, said in the statement.

Secondary funds are proving to be popular among LPs. Last week, Pomona Capital closed its oversubscribed Fund VIII on $1.75 billion. In the same month, Paris-based Idinvest Partners held a €214 million final close for its Secondary Fund II, while The Blackstone Group held a $1.5 billion first close of its first secondaries fund since acquiring the secondaries group from Credit Suisse. Last October, AlpInvest Partners raised $4.2 billion for its latest secondaries vehicle.