Merged Continental Euro Firms To Rival 3i –

ANTWERP, Belgium/ NAARDEN, The Netherlands – GIMV of Belgium and Alpinvest Holding of the Netherlands were set to merge early this year, a move that would form a continental European private equity group with a e2.3 billion ($2.36 billion) asset portfolio. GIMV was expected to launch a e745 million ($765.7 million) public tender for all outstanding Alpinvest shares before the end of 1999, a move that was supported by Alpinvest’s board and represented a 55% premium over Alpinvest’s closing price immediately prior to the announcement.

The merged company – whose name is yet to be determined – would have a strong position across the venture and private equity spectrum.

GIMV’s expertise is concentrated in the venture and growth capital areas, with a particular emphasis on information technology/communications and life sciences, while Alpinvest’s primary focus is on later-stage, buyout and mezzanine funding. Each company previously had revealed ambitions to step up activities outside their current core business areas.

Both firms already have taken significant steps to expand on the international stage – GIMV through alliances with United States funds and the creation of bases in Asia and Central Europe. Alpinvest, which has offices in Naarden, London and Frankfurt, has in recent years established an extensive network of strategic alliances in Europe with partners including Excel Partners in Spain, Candover and Intermediate Capital Group in the United Kingdom, Lessius in Belgium, NPE in Denmark, Private Equity Partners in Italy, TVM Technology Venture Management in Germany and, most recently, ACT Venture Capital in Ireland.

By merging, the companies expect in the medium term, to occupy “at least a European top-five position” in the venture, growth capital and buyout markets. The new group will also step up its third-party fund management activities. The new entity will rank as the number two listed venture and private equity provider in Europe after 3i, and Alpinvest CEO Stan Vermeulen predicts, it will be “a real competitor to 3i.”

The merged group, to be headquartered in Antwerp, would be led by GIMV CEO Gerard Van Acker, while Stan Vermeulen becomes vice chairman of the board of directors.

GIMV is advised by ABN AMRO, which also is providing debt for the transaction, and Alpinvest by Kempen & Co.

Meanwhile, Alpinvest recently held a e180 million ($185.2 million) closing on its private equity fund, and a dedicated technology fund is scheduled to launch during the early part of this year.