French investment firm Eurazeo has lost four investors from its growth equity team in one swoop, as they leave to start their own fund, sources close to the team tell Sifted. It's the latest twist in what's been a tumultuous year for one of Europe’s most influential investors.
Late last week, Eurazeo announced that it had appointed Hala Fadel as managing partner in charge of Eurazeo Growth. Fadel, who joined the Growth team as managing director last year, replaced Yann du Rusquec, who left two weeks earlier.
Multiple sources confirmed to Sifted that yesterday, Eurazeo was handed resignations by the three other growth team investors: Nathalie Kornhoff-Brüls in London, Zoé Fabian in Berlin and Guillaume d'Audiffret in Paris.
Du Rusquec launched Eurazeo’s growth fund in 2014. He was joined in 2016 by d’Audiffret and in 2019 by Kornhhoff-Brüls and Fabian. Together, the team raised Eurazeo’s third and latest €1.6bn growth fund in 2021.
A year of discontent
The departures come five months after Eurazeo CEO Virginie Morgon was pushed out by shareholders who were disgruntled over the company's share price — Eurazeo is one of the few European VC firms to be publicly traded — and financial performance.
At the same time, the mandates of Eurazeo’s general secretary Nicolas Huet and head of the mid-large buyout investment division Marc Frappier also ended.
Observers say this wave of departures is one of the ripple effects of the change of leadership as the company refocuses its priorities, amid a changed investment landscape that is particularly likely to impact funding-hungry growth teams.
The four investors declined to comment.
A spokesperson for Eurazeo tells Sifted: “These departures are personal decisions that we do not wish to comment on. The continuity of the growth team will be ensured thanks to the great expertise of Hala Fadel, whose 27 years of experience and international profile will enable us to continue supporting our portfolio companies.”
An investor heavyweight
Eurazeo casts a long shadow over Europe’s tech ecosystem, where it invests across almost all stages. The growth team has backed startups including Tink, wefox, Back Market, Glovo, Doctolib, Ornikar and ManoMano.
Eurazeo began life as a classic private equity firm following a merger in 2001, but has grown at a furious pace over the past decade. It now has €34.8bn in assets under management as of May, up from €8bn in 2017. That footprint grew even larger last week when Eurazeo announced the final close of a €400m smart cities fund.
Part of that expansion was fuelled by the acquisition of Idinvest Partners in 2017, which brought a greater focus on venture capital. Meanwhile, Eurazeo moved into growth equity with its first late-stage fund in 2014.
Eurazeo closed a €1.6bn growth equity fund in 2021 just as the global late-stage investment frenzy was peaking. European boosters saw it as a sign that the region was finally getting a foothold in the growth-stage market that had been dominated by US and Asian funds.
But those high-end deals have come crashing down over the past 18 months. Many of the firms that were able to write the nine-figure cheques that drove startup valuations through the roof have had to write off huge chunks of their investments, with SoftBank being the most notable example.
In its Q1 2023 financial report, Eurazeo said that the value of companies in its growth portfolio had grown 21%, a performance it deemed “strong” but well below the 50% growth it had seen in Q1 2022. It also noted that “all companies are bringing a sharper focus on cost control”.
Eurazeo has invested all of its third growth fund and is just starting the process of raising a fourth one. That process will be complicated by more cautious LPs spooked by the sharp drop in startup valuations, as well as the shakeup on the team.
The four departed investors seeking to establish a new independent fund will face similar challenges, even with their strong pedigrees and enormous collective contact books.