Posted on Nov 3, 2020 at 11:40 a.m.
The new “French-style” strategic investment fund has found its first target. Bpifrance on Tuesday formalized its entry into Arkema’s capital, via the Lac1 fund (also called Lac d’Argent), which currently holds 5.08% of the French chemist’s shares.
The shares were acquired on the market over the past few months, for a total amount of € 348 million. The public bank plans to increase this participation ” at least a few percent ”, With the aim of obtaining a seat on the board of directors at the next general meeting of the group. On the stock market, Arkema’s share climbed 1.6% this morning. It is down 8% since the start of the year.
With this equity investment, Bpifrance is therefore making the first investment of this new fund, born last May, after two years of gestation, and whose objective is to secure the capital of listed French stars. Arkema is one of them: “ the company is one of the world leaders in specialty chemicals […] with a recognized capacity for innovation », Specifies Bpifrance, and products used in many industries, such as automotive, electronics, cosmetics or textiles; its turnover was € 8.7 billion last year.
Speed up transformations
The first closing of the Lac1 fund made it possible to raise 4.2 billion euros, in particular from the sovereign fund of Abu Dhabi, Mubadala, but also from major French insurers (Covéa, Axa, CNP, etc.) and “family offices” (Unibel, Dassault). Bpifrance also put a billion in the pot. In total, the public bank hopes to endow this fund with 10 billion euros, even if the raising of capital is somewhat constrained by the restrictions linked to the pandemic.
” Our ambition is to make up for the absence of patient and sustainable investors in French capitalism., recalls Nicolas Dufourcq. Elsewhere in Europe, in the United States, pension funds are there to fulfill this mission. This was not really the case in France until now “. Even if the Strategic Participation Fund (FSP), supplemented by insurers, and already present in Arkema’s capital, fulfills this function with medium-sized companies.
The initiative has in any case found an echo with large French companies, assures Nicolas Dufourcq. ” Many of them come to see us, and more particularly in the industrial sector. This is where the transformations will be the most important in the years to come, with complex operations that will require stabilized capital. “.
For the boss of Bpifrance, the crisis will not change the strategy of the fund, focused on long-term investments. It could even create new opportunities to support large French companies.