Since the offered was received, Centaurus Capital has halved its stake in Atos and now controls a combined 16.71% interest along with fellow hedge fund Pardus. Meanwhile PAI Partners has upped its stake to 22.61% and has become the company’s largest individual shareholder. PAI was the founding shareholder of Atos when the company was created through the merger of Axime and Sligos, with the investor holding 100% of the company until its listing. The private equity firm also oversaw Atos’ merger with Origin in October 2000.
Another day, another announcement from a private equity firm birthed from old Banque Paribas (now there’s a visual for you!). News today that PAI Partners is launching a joint venture with former Deutsche Bank AG banker Philippe Guez and his partners is popping up everywhere, and was one of the topics of conversation of my dinner this evening. Apparently this is a minor busy season here in the land of wine and cheese for deals as everyone wants to tie up lose ends before heading off to Deauville, Saint-Tropez, or the Bassin d’Arcachon for the summer holidays.
The new firm has been named Akkadia and is planning on taking long-term stakes of between 5 and 20 percent in European companies valued at between 250M euros and 4B euros. Now, PAI has taken minority stakes in firms before (recently with Atos Origin) and European PE firms have historically been more likely make such moves in the past as compared to their US counterparts (sometimes because European regulators would only allow the firms to take up to certain amounts) and given current market conditions this is likely to continue as firms look for places to put their money (but beware of the dreaded drift!).
Bank to the Banque Paribas connection that I eluded to in the beginning of the post, over the years Paribas developed a reputation of being a pioneer in the realm of French private equity and both PAI (which began life as Paribas Affaires Industrielles) and Partech (which was started as the Global Venture Fund), which I wrote about yesterday, have their roots as being part of Banque Paribas, which itself was acquired in 2000 by BNP to form BNP Paribas.
PAI’s Chairman and CEO is Dominique Mégret (HEC 1970).