AXA Investment Managers acquires W Capital Partners

AXA Investment Managers has agreed to acquire W Capital Partners, a private equity firm specializing in GP-led and direct secondaries transactions, as it looks to broaden its private markets presence.

W Capital Partners currently manages $1.9 bn in AUM. As part of the acquisition, AXA has committed $200 mn to W Capital Partners’ secondaries investment strategy

Based in France, AXA IM is a major global asset manager with more than $900 bn in AUM. Its private markets and hedge fund business unit, AXA IM Prime, currently has around $38 bn in AUM and will house W Capital Partners.

The transaction comes as interest grows in PE secondaries as both an area for investment and a tool for GPs to generate much-needed liquidity.

AXA Investment Managers acquires W Capital Partners

Secondaries funds raised $78.3 bn last year, according to PitchBook, a 60.5% increase from 2022 and the second-highest total on record. There were around $111 bn worth of secondaries transactions in 2023, according to data from placement agent Campbell Lutyens.

The surge in secondaries activity has been driven by GPs coming under pressure to return capital to LPs at a time when market conditions have made more traditional exit routes such as IPOs and M&A less attractive.

W Capital Partners co-founder and managing partner David Wachter suggests that secondaries will continue to be an attractive option for GPs even as IPO and global M&A activity recovers.

David Wachter, W Capital Partners co-founder and managing partner

There’s no way that the IPO and M&A markets can solve the liquidity needs of the 28,000 companies that are currently held by private equity firms. Even in the best markets conditions

David Wachter, W Capital Partners co-founder and managing partner

The private equity asset class is three times bigger than it was 10 years ago.

Alongside GP-led structures such as continuation vehicles, W Capital Partners also specializes in direct secondaries transactions, which include structures like minority recapitalizations, private IPOs and direct share purchases.

Direct secondaries transactions can be applied in a much wider set of circumstances than continuation funds, which are only appropriate for certain types of assets and durations.

Yana Keller   by Yana Keller