According to Preqin’s Fund Manager Profiles online database, France is currently home to 229 private equity firms, the second largest amount in Europe, behind the UK. Unsurprisingly, a large majority of these firms (almost 80%) are headquartered in Paris, with Lyon placing a distant second, accounting for just 3% of all firms.
France has slipped into third place in Europe with regards to nominal GDP levels, but the country faces no immediate threat to its status as Europe’s second largest private equity player (in terms of funds raised). According to Preqin’s fundraising statistics, since the turn of the decade, France-based private equity managers have accounted for almost 16% of funds raised across Europe, ahead of their Switzerland- and Germany-based counterparts in third and fourth, respectively.
Ardian, a Paris-based fund of funds manager, is France’s largest private equity firm based on funds raised in the last 10 years, as seen in the table above. It has amassed nearly €30bn (excluding real estate and infrastructure vehicles) in capital commitments and is currently in the process of raising its seventh secondaries fund, with a target of €9bn.
PAI Partners comes in second place, with a 10-year cumulative fundraising total of €8.7bn and €2.8bn in uncalled capital. The Paris-based private equity firm primarily focuses on buyout investments across five core sectors: business services, food & consumer goods, industrials, retail & distribution and healthcare. In March 2015, the firm closed its sixth European investment vehicle on €3.3bn. Other prominent France-based players include Bpifrance Investissement, Access Capital Partners and LBO France.
Three of the five largest private equity firms in the region have buyout as their main strategy. Despite this, venture capital continues to be the most prevalent strategy among private equity firms based in France, with 38% of fund managers employing it as their main strategy, compared to 27% employing buyout.
As France, and the Eurozone as a whole, continues to recover from turbulent economic situations seen in recent months and years, it will be interesting to see how private equity continues to develop. With venture capital becoming more and more prominent in the country, France will likely have a significant future in European private equity.