(Updates with Caisse de Depot’s interest in second paragraph.)
Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) -- KKR & Co., the U.S. buyout firm co- founded by Henry Kravis, is among firms weighing a bid for Axa SA’s private-equity fund unit, three people with knowledge of the talks said.
Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec, Canada’s largest pension-fund manager, is also interested in the company, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are confidential. First round bids are due next month, they said. Axa, France’s biggest insurer, said in a statement today it is reviewing its stake in the unit.
Private-equity firms such as New York-based KKR and Washington-based Carlyle Group are seeking to diversify beyond leveraged buyouts and increase their assets under management to ensure steadier fee income. Carlyle purchased a stake in AlpInvest Partners NV in July, boosting assets to $153 billion and added a range of private-equity funds of funds, which invest money for clients in third-party managers.
Axa is selling the unit, which manages about $28 billion, to focus on insurance, people with knowledge of the discussions said on Sept. 23. The operation may be valued at about 500 million euros ($680 million), they said. Officials at KKR, Montreal-based Caisse de Depot and Axa Private Equity declined to comment.
The division, based in Paris, manages assets for Axa as well as investors including pension funds and sovereign wealth funds. It holds stakes in U.S. and European buyout funds run by firms including KKR, Blackstone Group LP and BC Partners Ltd. It also invests directly in midsize companies and infrastructure projects in Europe.
Axa Private Equity, which employs 251 people in Europe, New York and Singapore, was started by Dominique Senequier 15 years ago with the support of Axa’s founder, Claude Bebear. Caisse de Depot was one of her first investors.
--Editors: Edward Evans, Larry Edelman
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