Onex, Caisse Team Up For AXA PE While Carlyle Walks Away

Just a short update on the auction of AXA PE.

Onex Corp. is teaming up with Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec, the Canadian pension plan, to make a bid for AXA PE, two sources say. KKR is still interested while several sources confirm that BlackRock has dropped out.

peHUB, earlier this month, reported that BlackRock was no longer involved in the auction.

Pricing for AXA PE is aggressive and has caused some “natural players” to bow out, one banker says. The Carlyle Group, which agreed to buy a 60% stake in AlpInvest Partners earlier this year, was expected to vie for AXA PE.

Carlyle has walked away from the auction, a different person says.

In late September, AXA put its PE fund manager up for sale. Credit Suisse is advising on the auction. Paris-based AXA PE, one of Europe’s largest purveyors of funds of funds, manages roughly $28 billion of assets. Bids are expected to range from $700 million to $1 billion, the last source says.

AXA is expected to retain a stake in the unit while management is seen having a “meaningful say” in any prospective partners, sources say. “Management has to be signed on to do the deal otherwise they will all walk out the door,” a person says.

Officials for AXA PE and Carlyle declined comment.