La Francaise backs Forum’s European debt fund launch

French manager injects $600m into Forum products including new fund

Forum Partners intends to launch a European debt fund before the end of the year after forming a strategic partnership with French investment manager La Francaise.

London-based Forum, a mid-sized global real estate investment manager with $5.7bn of assets under management, has agreed to issue new shares in its business to La Francaise representing a 24.9% interest.

La Francaise is an independent affiliate of Credit Mutuel Nord Europe with assets under management of $50bn, including $9bn in real estate.

As part of the deal it is making a $600m capital allocation to Forum’s existing strategies and also to new joint products.

One of the first new products will be a debt investing programme, focusing on the UK and Germany, and offering both senior and mezzanine debt to borrowers.

La Francaise – which already has a senior debt fund that invests only in France (see June issue) – will commit at least $200m to this strategy. Forum hopes to have raised substantial third-party co-investing capital by the end of the year.

Forum’s Rob Weinberg and Ryan Pappas, who joined in 2011 from Credit Suisse, will work on the debt investing programme along with Forum co-founder Andrew Walker.

Platt: “This partnership comes at an opportune time – we would have struggled to do it alone”
Platt: “This partnership comes at an opportune
time – we would have
struggled to do it alone”

“This partnership comes at an opportune time – we would have struggled to do this on our own,” said Forum’s CEO Russell Platt.

The second joint venture with La Francaise will be direct investing in core-plus, good- yielding direct property in major European markets outside France.

Platt said the tie-up helped La Francaise gain the expertise to expand its real estate invest-
ment opportunities for its clients outside France.

“La Francaise is a group with dynamic leadership and very rapid growth. French investors want to be more open-minded about international growth.

“La Francaise has made other minority investments in companies to gain access to opportunities that are not home-grown.”

Platt added that the partnership “will give us access to their distribution network, which includes tens of thousands of private French savers and a Luxembourg UCITs platform.

“It’s a pretty compelling proposition and you don’t see $600m cheques being written every day in our industry.”

La Francaise is believed to have made the approach to Forum, advised by boutique Spencer House.

The commitments to existing Forum products will be initially to Forum’s global securities business and its Asian private equity strategy.