Private investment company Ardian, through its Mid Cap Buyout team, has agreed to acquire a majority stake in Prosol Group, the operating company behind fresh food retailer Grand Frais.
The investment is the sixth out of the Ardian LBO Fund VI (LBO VI), a company spokesperson told Agri investor. The fund invests in established companies with market capitalizations up to €1.5 billion ($1.62 billion) which are seeking to further expand internationally, the spokesperson added, noting that the Prosol investment “fits perfectly” into that.
Lyon, France-based Prosol operates over 185 Grand Frais stores with yearly sales exceeding €1 billion. The covered indoor grocery markets are located primarily on the outskirts of major cities. Prosol founder and majority shareholder Denis Dumont is also reinvesting in the firm concurrently with the Ardian investment, as will Prosol’s management team headed by president Hervé Vallat.
The €4.5 billion LBO VI, raised in 2016, seeks to acquire and develop companies valued between €200M and €1.5bn. The team also raised €500 million for co-investment opportunities.
“We’re seeing growing interest in this kind of portfolio arrangement, as it allows us to give investors further choice in how they invest and represents a great way for us to build even strong relationships with our LPs,” the spokesperson said, relaying information from the Ardian buyout team.
The biggest investors in LBO VI are sovereign wealth funds (33 percent) and pension funds (32 percent), followed by insurance companies (17 percent). The team said that 68 percent of the investors in the predecessor fund LBO V committed to LBO VI.
The vast majority – roughly 85 percent – of LBO VI will be invested in its core markets of France, Italy, Germany, Benelux, Austria and Switzerland, with the remaining 15 percent focused on Spain and the UK. The fund has attracted an investor base from Europe (42 percent), Asia (20 percent), North America (19 percent), the Middle East (14 percent), and South America (5 percent).
Ardian, founded in 1996, has $60 billion in managed or advised assets in Europe, North America and Asia. Previous investments from the Mid Cap Buyout team include Solina Group, a major player in the global food ingredients market; and Diana Ingredients, which specializes in producing and selling natural ingredients used in the pet food, human food, beverages and pharmaceutical industries.
Ardian declined to comment further on the financials of the Prosol deal.