What’s in a Name? ABN Amro Capital France becomes ABÉNEX Capital

Okay, so this isn’t exactly breaking news as the name change occurred a couple of months ago. However, I still hear everyone refer to ABÉNEX Capital (not to be confused with ABENEX) by it’s former name so I thought I’d do my small part and help spread the word. For those of you not in the know ABN Amro Capital France was spun out from ABN Amro earlier this year as part of the ongoing restructuring that’s resulted from the Dutch bank being acquired by the consortium of RBS, Fortis, and Santander. The firm, founded in 1992 by Hervé Claquin (HEC 1973), was bought out by senior executives this spring and was then rebranded as ABÉNEX Capital.

This brings up an interesting cultural difference in the naming of firms. In the Anglophone world PE/VC outfits tend to be named for actual objects be they animal, vegetable (hopefully there are enough types of trees in the world for the future business of naming VC firms to be safe), mineral, or simply the view out of the office window. Francophone PE/VC firms (and yes, despite popular opinion French VC firms do exist!) however tend to sound like they’ve been named using the plural form of some word derived from latin. The suffixes of –is and –xi tend to pop up with greater than normal regularity and can often sound like something the doctor would prescribe. The upside in a world of cross-border investing is that these names tend to be a bit more universal and not so language specific. AXA is a great example of a French company being named after nothing really at all, but it can be pronounced correctly by speakers of any language.

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