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Amundi and CEA in joint venture to create Supernova Invest

European asset manager Amundi, with over EUR1 trillion in assets, has established a partnership with the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), creating an independent asset management company: Supernova Invest.

In addition to taking over the current CEA Investissement funds (with an advisory mandate for the CEA's strategic fund and the management of the FNA ‘Amorçage Technologique’ Fund), the newly-formed entity is intended to create and manage new capital innovation funds for third parties to finance technological innovation projects in France. Supernova Invest will notably manage the ‘Crédit Agricole Innovations et Territoires’ fund, for which Crédit Agricole – via its Regional banks, Crédit Agricole Assurances and Crédit Agricole S.A. – has raised EUR50 million to support young innovative companies.

The firm writes that the new company will have the CEA Investissement team’s 15 years of know-how and hands-on experience in venture capital and seeding – they have already backed 74 innovative companies – as well as the capabilities of Amundi Private Equity Funds (PEF) in fund management and marketing. Recognised as one of the top-performing companies in the French private equity industry2, Amundi PEF also contributes its excellent business network thanks to its partner networks around the world.
As an independent management company owned jointly by CEA Investissement (40 per cent), Amundi PEF (40 per cent) and the team from CEA Investissement (20 per cent), Supernova Invest aims to become a key player in private equity dedicated to technological innovation at each development stage of innovative companies, from start-ups to mature companies. It will focus on the two major types of technological innovation: breakthrough innovation, based on intensive development of disruptive technologies deriving from research laboratories and typically associated with industrial challenges, and innovation through use, based on the combination of mature technologies for the development of new uses and/or economic models, already present in the digital economy. It will thereby bring to the market a range of funds covering all needs for technological innovation, the firm writes.

“Through its historical ties with the CEA, Supernova has access to a high-quality deal flow. This also allows it to benefit not only from the CEA’s expertise in high technologies and intellectual property licenses, but also an entire ecosystem, a key driver for accelerating operational performance and optimisation of investment needs. All these factors facilitate the emergence of start-ups in which the Supernova team invests. The partnership with Amundi will allow Supernova, once it has obtained AMF approval, to further development by increasing not only its investment but also its corporate analysis and monitoring capabilities.”

Crédit Agricole’s new fund Crédit Agricole Innovations et Territoires will be managed by Supernova Invest. The EUR50 million fund could reach EUR100 million by 2020, the firm says. This investment, to which the Crédit Agricole Regional Banks have contributed EUR40 million and Crédit Agricole Assurances and Crédit Agricole S.A. EUR5 million each, aims to rejuvenate the French regional economy by financing innovation and investment in young technology companies operating primarily in the six growth drivers of Crédit Agricole: agriculture and agri-food, energy and environment, housing, healthcare, tourism and the sea.

Christophe Gégout, Deputy Managing Director of the CEA and Chairman of CEA Investissement, says: “The creation of Supernova Invest represents the alliance of the CEA’s credibility in technological innovation and the best in private equity management with an experienced, highly successful investment team, that of CEA Investissement. With more than EUR200 million in assets under management, Supernova Invest aims to reach EUR1 billion by 2020.”
Pedro Antonio Arias (pictured), Head of Amundi’s Real and Alternative Assets division, outlines: “After a first successful infrastructure partnership with EDF, Amundi is once again joining forces with an industrial leader in its sector, the CEA, and demonstrating its commitment to making a range of innovative investment solutions emerge from the fabric of French start-ups.”
Régis Saleur, Managing Partner of Supernova Invest and formerly Chief Executive Officer CEA Investissement, adds: “This alliance adds another chapter to the history of the CEA Investissement team to allow new investors to join us and benefit from our proven methods, specifically adapted to financing start-ups with high technological content. We are keen to continue our development with new fundraising but without moving away from the CEA, with which we have a unique link.”
For Laurent Bennet, Head of Agriculture, Agri-food and Specialist markets at Crédit Agricole S.A. says: “The Crédit Agricole Group has announced it was committing EUR100 million to financing young innovative companies. This new fund is one more brick in the ecosystem that the Group and the Regional Banks are building on ‘Villages by CA’, a start-up incubator. The CEA’s influence and presence in the French regions is highly complementary with Crédit Agricole’s involvement in the heart of the region, making this partnership a considerable asset to finance young innovative companies, with the ambition of having a positive impact in terms of dynamism and employment. The first opportunities identified by the Regional Bank teams bears the promise of a high-quality deal flow.”

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