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Coller’s Fund VI does first deal

The purchase of French bank Crédit Agricole’s private equity arm - including a €450m portfolio - marks the first investment from Coller's latest secondaries fund, which is nearing final close.

Secondary specialist Coller Capital has purchased Crédit Agricole Private Equity, an investor in European SMEs that has been renamed Omnes Capital. Specific transaction details weren’t disclosed.

The deal was the first investment from Coller’s sixth fund, a source close to the firm told Private Equity International. Coller International Partners VI launched in April targeting $5.75 billion, according to an SEC filing. Coller has held various closes on Fund VI and is approaching final close, the source said. Coller declined to comment on the fundraising.

Capital from Coller’s 2007-vintage fifth fund also contributed to the Credit Agricole transaction, said a source close to the deal. In addition to becoming the sole shareholder in Omnes, Coller funds have also completed the secondary purchase of a €450 million portfolio of assets under its management from Credit Agricole.

Coller plans to guide Omnes Capital to independence, according to a statement. Details on how that transition would occur were not disclosed, but it would make Omnes the latest in a long line of formerly captive private equity firms that have spun out of Europe’s banks.

“It is a natural development for a captive asset management company to become independent,” said Omnes chairman and chief executive Fabien Prévost. “We will maintain our position as a generalist player in the private equity field, dedicated to SMEs at all stages of their growth.”

Omnes targets a range of private equity investments from mid-market buyouts in France to growth and venture capital, mezzanine and renewable energy deals.

Credit Agricole, France’s largest bank by Tier 1 capital ratios, said in a statement that the deal reduced its risk-weighted assets by some €900 million, as it joins other European banks divesting non-core assets in response to new capital rules. Europe’s banks will be required to hold capital equivalent to 9 percent of their total risk-weighted assets by the end of 2013 under Basel III regulations.