The investment fund has entered into exclusive negotiations with the private management group Crystal, which specialises in independent advice. At the same time, Crystal will sell its stake in the Alpheys distribution platform.
The small world of private banking and independent advice is in turmoil. Less than two months after the announcement by the investment company LFPI that it has entered into exclusive negotiations for the acquisition of the private bank Meeschaert, another player in wealth management is about to change hands with, once again, an investment fund at the helm. Apax Partners has just entered into exclusive negotiations with the shareholders of the Crystal group with a view to acquiring a “majority stake”.
Today, the group, which manages €2.5 billion in assets, is mainly owned by the management (60%), the management company OFI (34%) and the provident fund group Apicil. The latter is expected to exit from the capital when Apax Partners arrives. At the same time, Crystal is preparing to sell its minority stake in Alpheys, the distribution platform for financial advisers, and thus to refocus on its traditional business of wealth management consulting, notably for expatriates and accountants.
“This operation is logical, as it enables us to split a BtoC activity from a BtoB activity, two very different businesses,” emphasises one observer. For the time being, neither Apax Partners nor Crystal would like to give any further details on a deal that should be closed in the coming weeks.
Ramping up of investment funds
The arrival of an investment fund within the Crystal group, which bases its development on its independence, is a surprise. One of its founding managers, Bruno Narchal, had even dismissed this hypothesis last November, during an interview with the magazine “Gestion de fortune”, given their investment horizon. However, it confirms the growing interest of private equity in these financial professions. The wealth management groups Primonial, Norsia and Cyrus have long had investment funds in their capital.
These partners enable the groups to finance their development, notably through external growth, and to offer an exit route to historical shareholders. Finance was one of the few sectors of activity that still escaped investment funds. They are in the process of catching up.