Private equity investor Apax Partners also relies on the stock market

Apax Partners is a specialist in private equity and also knows its way around listed companies, where it has been active for more than 10 years. It intends to continue investing in high-potential, listed SMEs to make them leaders in their sectors. Eddie Misrahi, CEO of Apax Partners, explains.

More than 10 years’ experience in listed investments

“Investing in listed companies is one of Apax Partners’ techniques,” Eddie Misrahi begins. “We did our first deal in 2005, acquiring a minority position in Albioma.” In 10 years with Apax Partners as a shareholder, Albioma doubled its production capacity, total revenue and EBITDA, and began internationalising to Brazil in 2014.

Since this first successful operation, Apax Partners has developed expertise in three areas related to listed investments. The first is listing a portfolio company on the stock market as an exit strategy. Successful examples include Aigle, Groupe Afflelou, Outremer Telecom and, more recently, Amplitude Surgical. With the €106 million it raised by listing on Euronext Paris in June 2015, Amplitude Surgical became the largest French medtech IPO. At the end of 2017, with growth of 17%, Amplitude was in 76th place in the ranking of outperforming mid-sized French companies, as reported by Magazine des Affaires, and was first among French mid-sized companies in the Deloitte Technology Fast 50. Apax Partners’ second area of expertise is direct investing in listed companies, such as Albioma, to expand their scope for investment and build-up. The third area is buyouts. These “very risky” transactions require technical expertise and tenacity on the part of investment funds if they are to generate capital gains. “Our most successful buyout to date has been Prosodie.”

A minority shareholder offering valuable support

Whether it invests in listed or unlisted SMEs, Apax Partners positions itself as a core shareholder. “Our goal is the same as it is with unlisted companies, with respect to both expected performance and holding period,” says Eddie.

As with unlisted companies, Apax Partners wants to be the company’s sparring partner and relies on two major strengths to do this. Firstly, it brings to bear its expertise in four sectors – TMT, Services, Consumer and Healthcare – as demonstrated in its interaction with portfolio companies. Secondly, Apax Partners uses its value creation drivers: internationalisation, build-ups and digital. “Company executives can count on our specific expertise in their business sector and their markets and can create a roadmap tailored to achieving their growth and development objectives.”

The principal difference compared with the unlisted realm is corporate governance. “We must have a good command of the rules of corporate governance and the mechanisms that are specific to listed companies if we are going to create significant value for our companies.” Eddie cites the example of Altran. “We first invested in the company in 2008, in the teeth of the financial crisis. At that time, Altran had €360 million in debt that was to be partly refinanced by a €130 million capital increase.” So Altran focused its support on Altran’s refinancing and on raising new capital via a private investment in public equity (PIPE). “Our experience in this type of transaction enabled Altran to get back on track,” Eddie points out.

The approach is both opportunistic and friendly

The CEO of Apax Partners insists that an investment – whether in a listed or unlisted company – can succeed only if there is a relationship of trust with the management team. “We are not an activist fund, and we do not take positions that are hostile to management”, he explains. “All of our transactions are carried out in partnership with the management team.” When asked what Apax Partners’ next step in listed investments is, he answers, “For the moment, we will stay in France, keeping a close watch on the market and the opportunities that present themselves.” It’s their stock in trade.

Eddie Misrahi Chief Executive Officer Contact informations

Subscribe

Apax Talks

NEWSLETTER

Apax Talks is a digital magazine aimed at company managers. It presents growth levers for SMEs, with a focus on TMT, consumer, healthcare and services sectors.