The businessman Christian Burrus and his galaxy of companies oppose the delisting of the French insurance wholesaler April, orchestrated by the Anglo-Saxon investment fund CVC. An operation which was to inaugurate one of the first withdrawal offers since the new conditions offered by the Pacte law.
This seriously annoys the private equity community. The takeover of the insurance broker April by the Anglo-Saxon investment fund CVC was to give the “go” to a wave of quotations withdrawals in France and inaugurate one of the first operations of its kind in terms relaxed by the Pacte law. But a Swiss investor threatens to derail the operation and the case has taken a judicial turn.
Where does the dispute come from? Following a fiercely contested auction process, on December 18, the CVC fund bought back the majority stake in April held by its founder Bruno Rousset. He then announced his intention to delist the company. An operation made easier since the Pacte law reduced the capital holding threshold from 95 to 90% to trigger a squeeze-out.
To convince April’s minority shareholders to sell their shares (more than 30% of the capital) CVC offered them 21.60 euros per share, i.e. a premium of 25.9% on the closing price of the company the day before the announcement of the takeover. An offer that runs until Friday evening.
211th fortune in France
But in the meantime, an investor in April has come to complicate the matter. This is Christian Burrus, 211th fortune in France, according to Challenges (420 million euros), at the heart of a galaxy of companies, including Diot, a large French insurance broker.
Some of its entities have outbid the HVAC offer at 21.70 euros. Result: they currently hold more than 9% of the capital… Almost enough to derail the CVC operation.
Faced with this threat, the investment fund took the case to court. Before the launch of the stock market transaction, Christian Burrus indeed asked to meet with CVC, and in return undertook not to buy back any securities.
The decision of the Commercial Court fell on Tuesday. The interim order – pronounced by a former private equity figure Patrick Sayer – partially proved CVC right. Christian Burrus has received the injunction not to buy any shares, under penalty of having to pay 10,000 euros per newly acquired April share. On the other hand, the court has left a free hand to the companies in the businessman’s galaxy.
« Expropriation »
Which remains determined to continue its offensive. A relative justifies it as follows: “A squeeze-out is an expropriation. Minorities are free not to respond to the offer made to them. Having financed its operation through debt, the fund has an interest in subsequently raising as many dividends as possible from the generation of EBITDA, which may also be of interest to minority shareholders. A certain number of them therefore wish to remain associated with the capital, whether the company remains listed or not ”. The result of the withdrawal offer will be known on Wednesday.