The fund will make its first investments while continuing to raise funds from French and European LPs with a final target of 120 million Euros. The EIF and CDC Entreprises, acting on behalf of the French Strategic Investment Fund (FSI), invested in the first closing.
Argos Expansion will provide development and acquisition financing for small and medium sized French enterprises (SMEs) already held or being acquired by their management teams.
The fund will invest in junior capital (sponsorless mezzanine) and minority equity. It will bring new solutions to the increasing demand for long term financing from SMEs with a strong growth potential while enabling their management teams to retain their holdings or acquire a majority stake.
Argos Expansion will invest unitary amounts between 2 and 12 million Euros in businesses with enterprise values ranging from 10 to 100 million Euros.
An independent management team consisting of three partners, Olivier Bossan, Louis de Lestanville and Jean de Sampigny, will manage the fund’s operations and investments.
Argos Expansion and Argos Soditic share the same founding values: independence and transparency towards their LPs, as well as an entrepreneurial approach to the fund’s investments.
“Mezzanine or junior capital is particularly well adapted to finance SMEs’ growth and shareholding evolution (owner buy-outs, minority exits, acquisitions, etc.), where talented managers need long term financial support to their projects. SMEs’ needs to finance capital expenditure and the importance of small business within the French economy lead us to have confidence in the Argos Expansion deal flow“ said Olivier Bossan.
About Argos Expansion team
Olivier Bossan, after a carrier in industry and in the bank where he managed a portfolio of investments, was head of acquisition finance of a large French bank. He has specialised in mezzanine financing since 2000. In 2003, in conjunction with IDI, he created one of the first mezzanine funds dedicated to the financing of SMEs. He joined Argos Soditic in January 2008 to create the Argos Expansion fund.
Louis de Lestanville was previously an Investment Director with Argos Soditic where he spent 10 years and completed numerous investments. He has been working with Olivier Bossan since January 2008 to create the Argos Expansion fund.
Jean de Sampigny spent more than 9 years in a private equity company and in the acquisition financing department of a large international bank. Before that, he spent 7 years as a Navy pilot officer in the French Navy.
About Argos Soditic
Created in 1989, Argos Soditic is an independent European Private Equity firm with offices in Milan, Paris and Geneva, wholly owned and operated by its partners. Argos Soditic focuses on management buy-outs and buy-ins in small and medium sized companies across Europe, but primarily in France, Italy and Switzerland. The group of funds managed by the firm typically takes majority stakes ranging from €10m to €50m in companies with revenues of €20m to €400m. Argos Soditic prefers to invest in companies with the capacity to become leaders in a particular business niche. The acquisitions Argos Soditic has carried out include Buffet Crampon, Roc-Eclerc, Oxbow, Du Pareil au Même and Kermel in France, Bellco, GPP, Bellco and Termoindustriale in Italy, Maillefer, ORS, Kägi and Misapor in Switzerland.
The €275m fund that Argos Soditic V raised in 2006 has allowed the firm to carry out 14 transactions to date: eight MBOs (Driver/Sitour, GPP, FHB, Kägi, Orsyp, LEXSI, Misapor and Termoindustriale), four BIMBOs (Axyntis, Marie Laure PLV, Alkan and Bellco) and two MBIs (Dinno Santé, Mertz).
In addition, the fund completed 3 divestments, including GPP, operating in the luxury packaging market, Dinno Santé, operating in the medical devices market, and Kägi, a Swiss company operating in the food market.
About the European Investment Fund
The European Investment Fund (EIF) is the European body specialised in small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) risk financing. The EIF supports high-growth innovative SMEs by means of equity (venture capital and private equity) and guarantee instruments through a variety of financial institutions (venture and growth funds, banks, guarantee institutions..). The EIF activity covers EU Member States and EU Candidate Countries. The EIF has a crucial role to play throughout the value chain of enterprise creation, from the early stages of intellectual property development and licensing to mid and later stage SMEs. The EIF fosters EU objectives in support of innovation, research and regional development, entrepreneurship, growth and job creation.
At 31 December 2009 the EIF net equity commitments amounted to EUR 4.1bn while its outstanding guarantee portfolio totalled EUR 13.6bn.
About CDC Entreprises
CDC Entreprises is a portfolio management company approved by the French Financial Markets Authority (AMF), and a 100% subsidiary of the Caisse des Dépôts. CDC Entreprises is in charge of the private equity activities of the Caisse des Dépôts Group within the area of its general interest missions. As such, CDC Entreprises is responsible for the investments made by the Group, mainly on behalf of the Fonds Stratégique d’Investissement. CDC Entreprises invests directly and indirectly in companies, from seed capital investments to small buy-outs, nationwide and locally.
The purpose of CDC Entreprises is to foster the creation of strong and sustainable growth companies through the reinforcement of their equity and their expansion.
CDC Entreprises has currently 2,500 portfolio companies through 180 French funds.
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