The holding of the Frère and Desmarais families offers itself a new management nugget

Posted on Nov 16, 2021, 8:08 p.m.

And three. The investment teams of the Frère and Desmarais families are continuing their rapid rise with a new acquisition in less than a year. GBL announced Tuesday evening the entry into exclusive negotiations of its subsidiary Sienna with La Française (Crédit Mutuel Nord Europe) for the purchase of its debt management company Acofi and its 2.4 billion euros in assets.

After L’Etoile Properties in real estate management this summer, and the manager of Malakoff Humanis just over a month ago, this new acquisition would bring Sienna’s assets to 34 billion euros against only…. 3 billion eleven months ago. “We have taken a major step towards becoming the leading investor in alternative assets in Europe,” said Pedro-Antonio Arias, CEO of Sienna.

A strategy driven by its holding company GBL, headed by Ian Gallienne, which now has no less than 54 billion euros in assets. The investment company is now distancing its competitors of yesterday like Wendel or Eurazeo, and has given a boost to its diversification.

Other growth projects

“With Acofi, we are taking a position on an asset class which is set to grow very strongly in the coming months,” explains Pedro-Antonio Arias, Sienna’s manager. With the end of State aid measures, all companies will not necessarily pass the filters of bank credit committees or will want to free themselves from the constraints associated with their growth ”.

“Getting stronger in debt allows us to smooth our risk profile, debt being more secure than capital investment,” adds Pedro-Antonio Arias. It highlights the longevity of the team launched in 1997, which has known no defaults on its investments.

By leaning on Sienna, Acofi will have the means to invest in riskier financing than senior debt with real estate, industrial or public companies, its traditional prism.

The sale by the La Française group of Acofi securities is not a total surprise. This had entered its capital at 20% in 2014 when Acofi had abandoned the management of equity funds to focus on debt. Its participation then increased over time to reach 40% in 2020. In recent years, La Française has sought to relinquish several subsidiaries, including the LFIS quantitative management shop.

This refocusing comes at a time when its parent company, Crédit Mutuel Nord Europe, is approaching the powerful Crédit Mutuel Alliance Fédérale. However, the latter has its own asset management division, dominated by Crédit Mutuel Asset Management.

The GBL subsidiary, for its part, does not intend to stop there. Other growth projects are already under consideration in private equity and renewable assets. “We want to offer the widest and most homogeneous palette possible,” says Pedro-Antonio Arias.

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