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Our Story

From a single French buyout fund to a world-leading private investment house.



Our company was born in 1996, when Claude Bébéar, chairman of AXA, asked Dominique Senequier to create a private equity arm for the insurer. He promised to invest one franc for every two she raised from outside investors. Bébéar’s pledge fostered a huge determination in the young company to win clients and turn them into long-term partners by delivering excellent service and outstanding investment performance. AXA Private Equity launched with a $110m French Buyout fund and two external clients. Two decades later, Bébéar recalled : « I gave her 25 million, I think it was in Francs, and she achieved incredible growth. »

From 1996 to 2013

  • 1997

    The company expanded steadily into new asset classes and built its international network. The Buyout team is created in 1997.

  • 1998

    In 1998, our Growth activity was launched to help ambitious tech companies to grow in their competitive market.

  • 1999

    In 1999 our Secondary Fund of Funds business was launched. Set up to trade portfolios of private equity holdings, it is now the world’s biggest Secondary Fund of Funds investor and Ardian’s largest activity. That year we also opened our first international offices in London and New York.

  • 2001

    We laid the foundations of our “multilocal” strategy in 2001 with the opening of the Frankfurt office, today headed by Jan Philipp Schmitz. Creating seasoned local investment teams in the major European centres has proved a key competitive advantage.

  • 2002

    In parallel, further investment activities were launched: the Expansion team in 2002, followed three years later by Infrastructure and Private Credit. Today, Ardian is Europe’s biggest infrastructure investor and a leading provider of private debt to European LBOs.

  • 2005

    In 2005 we also launched Ardian Co-Investment.

  • 2007

    The network expanded in 2007 when we added a local investment team in Milan, led by Nicolò Saidelli, giving us unrivalled reach in France, Germany and Italy.

  • 2008

    In 2008, Dominique Senequier signalled the company’s increasing focus on responsible investment with a public pledge to share, wherever possible, part of the company’s capital gains on exit with employees of the company involved. Our focus on social impact intensified two years later, with the launch of the Ardian Foundation, dedicated to promoting social mobility.

  • 1999
  • 2007 Milan
  • Frankfurt office

Acceleration 2013 onwards

  • 2015

    Achieving independence opened a new chapter that saw our growth rate accelerate. We moved into Real Estate, led today by Stéphanie Bensimon, and also in 2015 opened offices in Madrid and San Francisco. Sustainability was a growing focus, highlighted by continued recognition from the UN Principles for Responsible Investment, widely seen as representing the investment industry’s benchmark when it comes to sustainability.

  • 2016

    We celebrated the company’s 20th anniversary in 2016 with a major expansion plan, targeting North America for our next phase of growth. In the following three years, we have launched North American Buyout and Infrastructure funds, expanded in Asia with offices in Tokyo and Seoul and opened our first South American office, in Santiago.

  • 2020

    In 2020, Ardian’s 700 staff are responsible for $110bn of assets, confirming our place among an elite global group of private investment houses and emphasising the ability of Ardian to make an even bigger difference with such scale.

  • Madrid office 2015
  • North America Buyout and Infrastructure funds 2016
  • Singapore office