Established by venture capital pioneers in Europe and the US, Apax Partners hopes to take private equity investing to great heights. The firm manages several funds that invest in large companies on behalf of investors, including pension funds, university endowments, insurance companies, financial institutions, and high-net-worth individuals. Targeting companies valued between €1 billion and €5 billion (between around $1.5 billion and $7.5 billion), Apax Partners usually takes long-term stakes in established firms in the technology, telecommunications, retail, media, health care, business services, and financial services sectors. The company has approximately $40 billion of assets under management.
Funded in 1969 as Alan Patricof Associates, the firm was initially focused on startups -- Patricof was an early investor in Apple and Office Depot, among others. Apax Partners has moved away from venture capital investing to dedicate itself to leveraged buyouts of larger companies. Since making the shift to more established enterprises, Apax has continued to make notable investments including insurance brokerage Hub International, foreign exchange provider Travelex, and software firm TriZetto.
In 2010 Apax completed 10 exits and made seven investments. It acquired a controlling stake in North American firm Advantage Sales & Marketing for $1.8 billion and a 70% stake in security software company Sophos for $400 million.
The firm is increasingly looking for investment opportunities outside of its traditional markets of Europe and the US. The firm made its first investment in Brazil by taking a controlling stake in business process outsourcing provider TIVIT. It then bought German clothing retailer Takko from Advent International in a $1.7 billion transaction. Apax also purchased a majority stake in Psagot Investment House, one of Israel's largest asset managers.
Also in 2010, the company flipped one of its more recognizable holdings, clothing designer Tommy Hilfiger, in a sale to Phillips-Van Heusen (now PVH) for some $3 billion. It acquired Hilfiger for slightly more than half that amount in 2006.
In 2011 the company continued to emerge from the economic downturn. It backed iGate Corporation's $1.2 billion acquisition of Indian outsourcing firm Patni Computer Systems, beating out an investor consortium led by Carlyle Group. It also bought business software firms Epicor Software and Activant Solutions, which it then merged into a single company under the Epicor name. In another deal, Apax acquired Yellow Media's Trader Corp. (the publisher of Auto Trader) for some $745 million. Apax also announced plans to acquire Swiss mobile phone company Orange Switzerland from France Telecom.
Also that year, portfolio company Bankrate went public via an IPO; Apax had acquired the financial information provider for some $570 million in 2009. Apax France and its investment partners then sold Vizada, a global satellite connectivity provider, to a subsidiary of EADS for some $960 million.
The private equity market weathered the recession relatively well. After a couple years making smaller-than-usual deals Apax is back at making bigger transactions. Economic growth in the US and European markets helped, along with success in high-growth countries in Asia, South America, and Central and Eastern Europe. Signs of a rebounding economy are evident in Apax's acquisition of Kinetic Concepts for approximately $6.1 billion. The company led a consortium of investors to buy the medical device maker, which it will help expand into new geographic markets.
Apax began as two separate firms, one in the US and another in the UK. The two firms merged in 2002 to become Apax Partners. The company has 10 offices in the US, Europe, and Asia. It has been expanding overseas: Since 2000, it has opened offices in Italy, Sweden, Spain, China, and India. – less