Ardian Said in Talks to Buy $2 Billion of Abu Dhabi Fund Stakes

Aug 04, 2014 1:00 pm ET

Aug. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Ardian, the private-equity firm formerly known as Axa Private Equity, is in talks to purchase more than $2 billion in private-equity fund stakes from Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, according to two people with knowledge of the deal.

ADIA, which invests on behalf of the government of Abu Dhabi, hired Cogent Partners to advise on selling mostly buyout fund stakes, people familiar with the matter said in July. Ardian made a bid on the portfolio before ADIA could start a sales process, said the people, who asked not to be named because the information is private.

Prices in the secondary market, where private-equity stakes are bought and sold, are at a post-crisis high as firms such as Ardian are seeking to invest billions of dollars. The average high bid for holdings of buyout funds was 100 percent of net asset value in the first half of the year, according to a July pricing report by Dallas-based Cogent Partners.

An ADIA spokesman declined to comment. Emma Murphy, a spokeswoman at The Neibart Group, declined to comment on behalf of Ardian.

Ardian announced in April it raised $9 billion, including co-investment capital, to make secondary investments. Earlier this year, the Paris-based firm beat out other bidders by offering to pay more than face value for buyout fund stakes from General Electric Co., said four people familiar in March.

ADIA, based in the United Arab Emirates capital, is among institutional investors that have turned to the secondary market to rebalance holdings and pare stakes in illiquid private-equity funds. The authority can invest as much as 8 percent of its portfolio in private equity, according to ADIA’s 2013 annual review. ADIA added the asset class in 1989 and has backed private-equity funds that focus on North America, Europe and emerging markets.