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General Atlantic and Carmignac back new private equity secondaries firm


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US tech investor General Atlantic and French asset manager Carmignac are backing a London investment manager that is buying out stakes in private equity funds, as they seek to diversify into this fast-growing strategy.

General Atlantic, best known for backing TikTok parent company ByteDance, and Paris-based Carmignac have bought minority holdings in Clipway, a firm set up by former Ardian senior investor Vincent Gombault.

They are also committing cash to the firm’s debut fund, which is aiming to raise $4bn, according to people briefed on the plan. Clipway was set up earlier this year and has raised around a quarter of this target, said one of the people.

Clipway declined to comment on fundraising.

The move follows deals in which big asset managers, including Ares, Franklin Templeton and PGIM, have increased exposure to the secondaries markets. The private equity secondaries market reached more than $100bn last year, doubling since 2017, according to a report by Lazard.

Blackstone and Goldman Sachs have grown organically in this area and raised their largest-ever funds for secondary deals this year, a market that offers large investors such as pension funds the chance to exit illiquid private market investments early if they want to.

Clipway uses proprietary technology and data analytics to help price and monitor potential investment opportunities. 

Gombault, who spent over two decades at Ardian, played an instrumental role in building the secondaries business of the French private equity investment manager, and it has since grown to become its largest unit. He has set up the new firm with former Ardian colleagues and others.

Ardian is itself seeking to raise around $25bn for its first fund since Gombault left in December 2020. The Paris-based firm, headed by Dominique Senequier, raised $19bn in 2020 for this strategy.

Clipway has hired executives from Coller Capital and appointed David Enriquez, a managing director at Rothschild’s merchant bank in New York, as a partner. It now employs more than 20 people in London and New York. 

Back in March General Atlantic, which manages $77bn in assets, said it was teaming up with an Abu Dhabi state fund and the emirate’s largest listed company to launch an investment group. A month later the New York-based firm said it had acquired private credit firm Iron Park, a business set up by Tripp Smith, a former Blackstone credit executive.

The Clipway deal also reflects how mainstream asset managers such as Carmignac are betting on assets outside traditional bonds and equities to lift profits.

Founded more than three decades ago by Édouard Carmignac, the firm built its business largely by targeting individual investors through a network of private banks and independent financial advisers across Europe. It made its name with defensive positioning in 2008, which allowed it to avoid losses when markets crashed.

The Paris-based asset manager has been increasing its exposure to private markets by striking partnerships with smaller firms. It is a cornerstone investor in UK private equity firm Cap10, a new buyout house set up by a senior former executive from Apollo.

Carmignac’s assets under management have dropped 40 per cent in the past five years, from €50bn to €30bn, reflecting lacklustre performance and outflows at its flagship Carmignac Patrimoine fund.

Patrimoine, which invests in bonds, equities and currencies, is up 1.62 per cent a year over the past five years and is down 1.75 per cent this year. Its assets have decreased from €17.8bn five years ago to €6.7bn.



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