Private Equity in France

Private Equity in France

Interview with Ana Brandao: Navigating the Dynamics of Private Equity in France

Ana Brandao, a distinguished French Lawyer specializing in mergers and acquisitions and private equity transactions, provides invaluable insights into the evolving landscape of private equity in France. As a key member of BDO Avocats, the law firm of BDO in France, Ana sheds light on the firm’s multi-disciplinary approach and its role in facilitating complex transactions in an increasingly dynamic market.

Private equity is a dynamic industry. From the full life cycle of a fund, from formation and fundraising through growth equity transactions, leveraged buyouts, going-private transactions, and recapitalizations, to dispositions and exits. 

Which of these areas in France have you seen most change and why in the previous 2 years?

Following a 31% decrease in funds raised by private equity actors in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, 2021 witnessed unprecedented levels of fundraising.

This rebound demonstrates the confidence of French private equity actors in the French economy and their ability to support its recovery.

The sector of growth equity, also referred to as capital development, has seen its fundraising volume double in two years. Those changes are driven by the resilience of the private equity sector and its capacity to adjust to economic instabilities. The move towards smaller and mid-cap vehicles also indicates a shift in market trends.

In 2023, despite some signs of a slowdown in the first half of the year, the private equity industry has maintained its dynamism and is beginning to stabilize again. In an uncertain macroeconomic environment, private equity remains, however, a key player in financing business growth.

Fundraising cycles continue to be lengthy. What are the main reasons for this and how does BDO France assist its clients in this process?

Fundraising cycles in private equity tend to be lengthy due to several reasons. Private equity investments are typically medium to long-term. This long-term commitment requires in-depth due diligence and negotiation processes, which can extend the fundraising cycle.

Furthermore, factors like unstable economic conditions, unprecedented levels of inflation, and rapidly increasing interest rates have the potential to decelerate the process of private equity transactions and extend the duration of investment periods. As investors become more sophisticated, conventional methods of raising funds may also no longer be adequate.

BDO France has a team of experts in every discipline who assist their clients in every process of private equity transactions by providing legal, tax and financial advice, due diligence, negotiation support, and document preparation. Our teams combine extensive expertise to provide tailor-made solutions. The synergy between our skills and those of BDO financial experts creates a remarkable force to address the complex challenges our clients face. We also help our clients identify potential investors, prepare presentation packages and structure transactions. Our team is dedicated to supporting a wide range of businesses, from SMEs to large corporations, including mid-sized enterprises, startups, and rapidly growing companies. 

With recent advances, milestones, and breakthroughs achieved in artificial intelligence (AI), technology and the digital sector, how has this impacted private equity investments, particularly in AI, and what conclusions can be drawn from private equity and AI?

AI’s emergence has revolutionized standard investment methods and redefined how private equity experts navigate the financial field. Leveraging AI algorithms, PE firms gain swift access to comprehensive insights, streamlining investment selection and enhancing data-driven decision-making accuracy.

At BDO, we are increasingly using AI in our activities. AI is a beneficial tool in terms of saving time and, therefore, improving our productivity and responsiveness to our clients. We are going to be expanding our use of AI in the near future to make it our ally in the service of our customers while keeping, at heart, compliance with data protection and cybersecurity standards, and of course, the legal security we offer them.  

The leveraged buyout (LBO) market in France has shown resilience in 2023, despite facing several challenges. What are your predictions for the future and why?

After several dynamic years, marked by waves of transactions, the year 2023 is less impressive for LBOs. The geopolitical context (war in Ukraine) and the macroeconomic environment have had an impact on transactions. The financing market has slowed sharply due to high interest rates, which increased the cost of debt. Where it used to cost between 4 and 5%, it now costs between 8 and 10%. It is essentially the large-scale transactions that have disappeared from the landscape. For SMEs and ETIs, on the other hand, the picture is less bleak.

However, the outlook remains bright. Despite the recent complications in the LBO market, investment funds have large sums of money to invest (the famous “dry powder”) and it is not in their interest to delay putting them to work. Furthermore, the need to pass on businesses is becoming a reality, one third of founders will be forced to hand over their business due to their retirement within the next five years.

What are the top 5-10 issues in French mergers and acquisitions transactions both the target company and the acquiring company should consider when contemplating a transaction?

(1) It goes without saying that they should be accompanied by specialist advisors in this field, to help the operation run smoothly.

(2) It is important to identify sensitive issues at an early stage, to avoid the risk that an issue not identified at the negotiation stage will necessarily lead to a contentious outcome when it comes to light, after the change of ownership.

(3) Guarantee the confidentiality of negotiations and business secrecy.

(4) Anticipate, as it may have a significant impact on the calendar, any prior approval procedure before a public authority, due to notably foreign investment in sensitive activities, or anti-trust rules.

(5) The sellers must ensure that the interests of their company and employees are protected during this kind of operation. (6) In order to avoid the failure of the transaction post-closing, a detailed anticipated planned integration must be implemented to avoid tensions with employees and customers.


I am a French Lawyer specializing in mergers and acquisitions and private equity transactions. I joined BDO Avocats, the Law Firm of BDO in France, after previously working for international Law Firms.  

BDO Avocats is a multi-disciplinary law firm. It is a member of BDO, the world’s 5th largest network of audit, consulting, accounting, and social expertise firms, present in 162 countries. Our French Transaction Services team worked in 2023 on more than 100 deals, for corporate and private equity clients.  

I assist my clients in their external growth operations, as well as in their restructuring projects, both in France and abroad. I act as a privileged contact for my clients in the implementation of projects with a significant international dimension as I am fluent in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. I advise companies in the negotiation and legal structuring of their financial needs, notably via fundraisings and leveraged buyouts, as well as in the identification and management of corporate governance risks. Finally, I am also involved in resolving shareholder disputes. 

Ana Brandao

Attorney at Law, BDO AVOCATS

43 47, Avenue de la Grande Armée 75116, Paris

Email: ana.brandao@avocats

Tel: +33 1 79 97 12 43

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