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Ardian seeks $15bn for next flagship secondaries fund

ASF IX would be tied for the largest standalone fund dedicated to secondaries, alongside Lexington Capital Partners X, which launched in May.

Ardian, the biggest firm in the secondaries market according to the SI 50, is back in market with what would be equal to the largest standalone fund dedicated to the strategy.

The Paris-headquartered firm is seeking $15 billion for ASF IX, according to two sources familiar with the matter. The firm is in pre-marketing mode for the fund and is speaking to LPs, one of the sources said.

If it hits the target, the fund would match Lexington Partners‘ $15 billion for Lexington Capital Partners X, which launched in May.

The figure is not understood to include co-investment capital, which accounted for $5 billion of Ardian’s previous $19 billion programme, ASF VIII. That programme closed in May 2020 after two years of fundraising, according to Secondaries Investor data.

Ardian has led a number of large deals in recent months, including a $3 billion portfolio sale by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, affiliate title Buyouts reported in early February. It also acquired the majority of a $1 billion portfolio offloaded by Harvard Management Company. Fund VIII is just under 90 percent invested, Secondaries Investor understands.

Ardian’s fundraise comes amid a raft of changes at the French giant. The firm is reported to be speaking to bankers about a potential IPO, Bloomberg reported in November.

In late 2020, Vincent Gombault, head of the firm’s fund of funds and private debt programmes, departed the firm, as Secondaries Investor reported.

Firms including Strategic Partners, Landmark Partners, ICG and Partners Group are in market with their latest flagship private equity secondaries vehicles, Secondaries Investor data shows. Strategic Partners could raise as much as $20 billion for its Fund IX, Blackstone president and chief operating officer Jonathan Gray said in October.

A spokesperson for Ardian declined to talk about fundraising.