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Axa IM plots private markets push

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Axa Investment Managers, the €864bn fund management unit of the French insurance group, plans to establish a new business unit to take advantage of the current boom in private markets.

Axa IM said the new division, which would be called Axa IM Prime, would house the private markets fund of fund businesses that the wider Axa Group has built over the past nine years in conjunction with Axa IM Alts — the asset manager’s alternatives business division.

Plans for the new unit, which are currently being discussed with employee representatives in France and Germany, would see Axa Group chief investment officer Pascal Christory lead the business. He would also join the board of Axa IM.

The new division would bring together investments such as primary and secondary private equity and infrastructure, general partnership minority stakes, private debt, fund of hedge fund, fund financing and co-investments. Axa IM already manages around €20bn of assets in these areas.

Axa IM said four investment professionals from the Axa Group, who currently lead infrastructure, private equity and private debt investment, would join the new division to lead investment in these areas.

Marco Morelli, chief executive of Axa IM, said the new business would “complement the solid direct alternative investment offer we already provide to our clients through Axa IM Alts”.

Asset managers are increasingly developing expertise to capture demand for access to private markets, which are considered to offer attractive returns for investors but which have been traditionally harder to access.

Last year global private market assets under management grew to an all-time high of $9.8tn, according to McKinsey, up from $7.4tn at the end of 2020.

Fidelity International recently announced it has hired 12 people across its direct lending division as part of its push into private markets. As part of a wider plan to develop its private assets capability, Fidelity established a private credit team in early 2021 to launch a full range of loan and private credit strategies.

Schroders, the UK listed asset manager, announced in 2021 it was bringing together its private assets capabilities under the Schroders Capital brand.

In April, Schroders announced it has completed the acquisition of a majority stake in Greencoat Capital – one of Europe’s largest renewable infrastructure managers – which would sit within its Schroders Capital business.

Investment banks are also bolstering their expertise in private markets, with JPMorgan, Citigoup and Goldman Sachs among those that are among large Wall Street banks taking on dealmakers to raise funds for high-growth companies in Europe.

This article was published by Private Equity News sister title Financial News.

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