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21 Invest France divests PLG to a Continuation Fund

21 Invest France announces the successful divestment of ProductLife Group (PLG), global expert in regulatory compliance for the healthcare industry, to a newly established continuation fund to further support the group’s expansion plans in joint control with Oakley Capital.

With this most recent exit and re-investment, the French management company of the European platform 21 Invest further demonstrates the relevance of its new positioning put in place in 2017 with François Barbier taking over as CEO in France. Underpinned by its sector focus, high degree of transaction selectivity and robust value creation framework, 21 Invest France is successfully delivering consistent outperformance and meaningful liquidity to its growing base of investors.

PLG: another success story in the portfolio of 21 Invest France

PLG is a global expert in regulatory affairs and compliance consulting for the healthcare industry. Serving more than 1,000 clients ranging from pharmaceutical companies, biotech and medtech companies, the group covers the entire lifecycle of pharmaceutical products, from development to post-marketing vigilance, across more than 150 countries.

PLG entered 21 Invest France's portfolio in 2019 through a buyout from its founder. The group has been profoundly transformed ever since, starting with the recruitment of six new top managers, including Xavier Duburcq in 2020 as CEO. The company expanded rapidly, driven by double-digit organic growth turbocharged by 16 bolt-on acquisitions spanning 9 countries not only in Europe but also in the United States, India or Australia. Over five years, the group has broadened its areas of expertise, improved its global coverage and optimized the competitiveness of its service offering, to reach sales of €167 million to date.

With new resources required to accelerate its development, a capital reorganization was carried out as part of an M&A process led by Evercore Healthcare’s teams. The deal values the group at nearly €500 million and enables all shareholders to exit.

In addition to its management team, which is reinvesting significantly, PLG will be jointly controlled by Oakley Capital and 21 Invest France, which is reinvesting through its sixth fund vintage and newly established continuation fund. This dedicated vehicle was raised with the support of Evercore PCA as financial advisor, and Eurazeo and Hayfin as lead investors. Other investors are joining in syndication including Arcano, CA Indosuez Wealth Management and Vintage Strategies at Goldman Sachs Alternatives.

The transaction was completed on May 23rd, 2024 and marks an important step forward for PLG, which has now been given substantial resources to support its ambitious expansion strategy. For 21 Invest France, this successful exit represents a highly attractive return of capital to its Fund V investors, whilst retaining strategic exposure to the value creation potential of a well-known asset.

Fabrice Voituron, Managing Partner of 21 Invest France says: “PLG is a perfect illustration of our day-to-day mission: identify a well-positioned company within a promising market, and accelerate its growth potential. Working alongside Xavier Duburcq and his team, we have strengthened PLG's global leadership position and bolstered its areas of expertise, increasing its size seven-fold. The Group has become a recognized platform combining double-digit organic growth with significant potential for consolidation. Our reinvestment is a testament of our confidence in PLG's potential and reflects our desire to continue the journey of making PLG a world leader in its segment, alongside Oakley Capital as our new partner.”

21 Invest France’s model change is yielding positive results

Whilst continuing to build on its long-standing expertise in driving growth transformation, the management company has refocused its investment strategy around 4 sectors: Tech/Software, Healthcare, B2B Services and Education. 21 Invest France supports these companies, which are often family-owned, to take on a new dimension and become category champions.

This new momentum, led by the current management team made up of three Managing Partners (François Barbier, Stéphane Perriquet and Fabrice Voituron) and two Partners (Antoine Vigneron and Dorothée Chatain), has now proved its effectiveness:

Robust performance for Fund V (2017 vintage): with the three successful exits of DL Software (now Orisha), LV Overseas and PLG, Fund V delivers an average gross realized performance of c.4x cash on cash, and a DPI of 120% whilst retaining meaningful upside across six remaining companies in the portfolio.

Fund VI (2022 vintage) already out of its J-curve: our new fund has completed three investments to date, with Agorastore (BtoB platform for digital auctions), Conex (expert in software solutions for customs procedures) and now PLG. A number of opportunities are under review for a fourth investment over the coming months.

€500 million distributed to our investors over the last three years: in addition to the five recent exits out of Funds IV and V, several additional exits are planned to be completed before the end of the year.

Strong support from investors with a total of €420 million raised over the past two years (of which 80% coming from institutional investors and 20% from family offices and former portfolio company managers):
o €220 million for the continuation fund, which will support ProductLife Group as it continues to expand worldwide;
o €200 million for Fund VI, which is entering its final fundraising phase and on track to reach its target of €250 to 300 million by November 2024.

This positive news flow underscores the strength and relevance of 21 Invest France's position in the French lower mid-market.

François Barbier, Managing Partner & CEO of 21 Invest France comments: “This streak of successes is the direct result of our teams’ unwavering commitment to our strategy and marks an important milestone for 21 Invest in France, validating the changes made in 2017. The successful exit of PLG and concurrent creation of a widely endorsed continuation fund vehicle, coupled with the €420 million raised internationally this year to date demonstrate the relevance of our vision and approach, as well as our investors' confidence in our ability to generate attractive and consistent returns. We intend to capitalize on this momentum to reach our target for Fund VI over the next few months.”

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