Le Fonds européen d’investissement investit 20 M€ dans Aster II
The European Investment Fund (EIF) has committed EUR 20m in Aster II, a venture capital fund managed by Aster Capital. Aster Capital is a Paris-based fund manager which focuses on early stage Cleantech investments. It specifically targets highly innovative enterprises developing ground-breaking technologies in the fields of energy, new materials and environment. Aster II has a distinctive set-up which involves three major industrial corporates acting as sponsors: Schneider Electric, Alstom and Solvay. EIF’s additional commitment brings Aster II’s investment capacity to over EUR 105m to support innovation in the European Cleantech sector.
EIF has invested more than EUR 6bn in 370 funds over the past 20 years, in line with its mission to promote entrepreneurship and job creation in small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) and foster innovation and growth in Europe. EIF’s experience and high standards confirm the relevance of the multi-corporates set-up of Aster II aiming to provide the best possible support to European SMEs. EIF’s Chief Executive Richard Pelly stated: “Our participation in Aster II is fully in line with our strategy to extend our collaboration with corporates and further integrate them in the venture capital ecosystem. We are convinced that valuable synergies emerge from a close cooperation between strategic market players, fund managers and their portfolio companies. Moreover, the Aster II model proves that such collaborations do not exclude the management teams being independent which is, from our experience, a key factor for success. The privileged partnership between a quality team such as Aster’s and internationally renowned corporates will significantly benefit innovative SMEs and broadly contribute to European economic and technological growth.” Jean-Marc Bally, Aster’s Managing Partner, further explained: “The endorsement of our strategy and business model by an institutional investor such as EIF is a major milestone for us. We could already rely on our industrial sponsor’s expertise, and now we can also turn to EIF for investor’s experience and market knowledge. Capitalising on this support, we were able to raise a fund which is twice the size of our previous fund despite a particularly adverse fundraising environment. This backing gives us the opportunity to help European start-ups become the Cleantech champions of tomorrow.”
Stéphane Roussel, representing the corporate investor Solvay, also added: “EIF’s commitment confirms the value creation model we had identified with Aster. Thanks to the complementary dynamics brought by each limited partner, Aster Capital is developing a totally new strategy in contempt of a still conventional venture capital market.”
This transaction was made by EIF under the European Commission Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) which aims to help SMEs in their early stages of development and play a crucial role in enabling start-ups to access equity finance.
About the EIF EIF’s central mission is to support Europe’s small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) by helping them to access finance. EIF designs and develops venture capital and guarantees instruments which specifically target this market segment. In this role, EIF fosters EU objectives in support of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth, and employment. The EIF total net commitments to private equity funds amounted to over EUR 6bn at end 2011. With investments in over 370 funds, the EIF is a leading player in European venture due to the scale and the scope of its investments, especially in high-tech and early-stage segments. The EIF guarantees loan portfolio totalled over EUR 4.4 bn in close to 220 operations at end 2011, positioning it as a major European SME guarantees actor and a leading micro-finance guarantor.