AXA private markets unit head: Our secondaries deployment will be big

AXA Investment Managers Prime has already built a nine-person infrastructure secondaries team and is building out its PE secondaries capabilities, according to global head Pascal Christory.

AXA Investment Managers Prime, a €34 billion unit of European insurer AXA Group that focuses on private markets and hedge funds, has been making headway with its secondaries business since its launch last year.

The unit, whose moniker is an acronym for ‘private markets enabler’, is already investing in infrastructure deals and has private equity deals in its sights, according to global head Pascal Christory.

Prime has built a team of nine dedicated portfolio managers focusing on infrastructure secondaries, Christory told Secondaries Investor. Last month, AXA IM was reported by affiliate title Infrastructure Investor to have co-led an infrastructure secondaries deal alongside Ardian that involved assets managed by DWS.

In that transaction, Frankfurt-based DWS moved minority stakes in UK bus company Stagecoach; European cancer care and diagnostic imaging platform Ergéa Group; French freight lessor Streem; and fibre provider Deutsche GigaNetz into a separate vehicle and retained majority positions and control of the assets.

The continuation fund raised €550 million of equity. Another €200 million was raised for follow-on investments, Infrastructure Investor reported.

Compared with infrastructure, private equity secondaries is an area that is more crowded due to current market dynamics, according to Christory. AXA IM Prime’s infrastructure team will initially focus more on GP-led secondaries than LP portfolios.

“It’s part of our customised solution-type of products where we offer a fully diversified set of strategies across primary and secondary investment,” Christory said. “There is no ringfence strategy as of now on secondaries, but we are deploying capital for [secondaries] as a bucket of a more global strategy.”

Prime is also building up its private equity secondaries capabilities and last week hired Matthieu Ducharme, a former Northleaf Capital Partners secondaries investment professional, to lead PE secondaries, as Secondaries Investor reported. Ducharme reports to Peter Ischebeck, AXA IM Prime’s head of private equity, and is based in London.

Christory said the team is yet to define how much AXA IM Prime plans to deploy each year into secondaries.

“We’ll have some objective [soon], but it is still in the making. It will be big.”