French PE Firm Astorg Planning $1.31B Fund

French buyout shop Astorg is planning to raise 1 billion euros ($1.31 billion) for new deals, Reuters reported. The firm plans to hold a close in mid-January for the fund, its fifth. Astorg invests primarily in French companies in the 100 million euro to 800 milllion euro enterprise value range, Reuters said.

(Reuters) – French private equity firm Astorg is set to raise 1 billion euros ($1.31 billion) for new deals, two people familiar with the situation said, beating management’s initial goal for its latest buyout fund.

The firm is planning to hold a close on its fifth buyout fund — the point after which it can start investing the capital raised — in mid-January, one of the people, an investor in private equity funds, said.

Astorg joins a list of buyout firms, including Oaktree Capital [OAKCP.UL], Montagu Private Equity and BC Partners [BCPRT.UL], bucking the tough fundraising environment to raise billions of euros from investors.

“There are always one or two funds that raise (capital) as if it were a bull market,” the investor said.

Private equity firms raised $225 billion in 2010, the lowest annual total since 2004, with European-focused funds raising just $50.2 billion, data provider Preqin said on Thursday.

Astorg invests primarily in French companies in the 100 million euro to 800 milllion euro enterprise value range and has generated annualised returns of more than 28 percent on the businesses it has sold, according to the company’s website.

Astorg Chairman Xavier Moreno told a Reuters private equity forum in Paris in September the firm was aiming for 800 million euros, in line with its fourth buyout fund raised in 2007.

“A billion would be a pleasant surprise,” Moreno said at the time.

A close on 1 billion euros would make Astorg the second French firm to hit the ceiling on its latest buyout fund already this year. Argos Soditic said in a statement on Monday it had raised 400 million euros for its sixth fund, beating its 360 million euro target.

Astorg was unavailable for comment.

By Simon Meads additional reporting by Julien Ponthus in Paris; Editing by Douwe Miedema