PARIS (Reuters) - Blackstone, the world's largest private equity firm, is partnering with BNP Paribas over a new fund financed by French individuals and aimed at investing in companies in private debt, the groups said in a joint statement on Tuesday.
The private credit market has gained prominence as an alternative source of financing for companies, especially those that may face challenges accessing traditional bank loans or prefer a more flexible and tailored financing structure.
Blackstone's vehicle, dubbed "Blackstone Credit Privé Europe SC", aims to tap on the large pool of savings held by French retail investors via the country's most popular tax-efficient life insurance product, whose total outstanding amounted to 1,923 billion euros at end of 2023, according to French insurers' lobby France Assureurs.
Clients of BNP Paribas' private bank unit and insurance division Cardif benefit from an exclusivity period ending on April 5 to invest in the fund, the French lender and Blackstone said.
The creation of a France-dedicated fund, aimed at investing in middle-sized companies, fits with Blackstone's group strategy targeting individual investors.
About a quarter of the firm's assets, or $240 billion, come from individual investors.
"Given the current environment, credit is, in particular, very interesting given the rise in interest rates. And the risk-adjusted returns of private credit have never been more attractive," said Rashmi Madan, the head of Blackstone's private wealth solutions in Europe.
Blackstone has been present in France since 2003 and has about 23 billion euros ($25 billion) in assets under management in the country.
($1 = 0.9324 euros)
(Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain; editing by Jason Neely)