French Tech is said to be at half-mast with a collapse in fundraising this year (8 billion euros, down 43% compared to 2022), yet it still seems attractive. Lazard Frères Gestion – the management company of the Lazard group in France – has indeed opened exclusive negotiations with the French fund Elaia to invest in young French startups.
This partnership should enable the creation of a joint structure, majority owned by Lazard, which will manage a fund worth several hundred million and will be led by Xavier Lazarus, co-founder and director of Elaia. A team of 5 to 10 investors must be recruited.
Unlike Elaia, whose main business is supporting companies in the early stages of their development, the new fund will specialize in acquiring more mature companies. On the other hand, it will focus, like Elaia, on young companies with a very high technological value, possibly from basic research laboratories.
For Lazard, this is part of a project announced this year by its global boss Peter Orszag, which aims to double sales by 2030, but also responds to a request from French clients. At the same time, this partnership will allow Elaia to place bigger tickets on the most promising companies, especially some that are already in its portfolio and poised for strong development. The fund thus very early invested in companies such as Mirakl, Critéo or Ornikar.
“He is the most complete partner we could have asked for”, develops Mr. Lazarus. For the record, it was Philippe Englebert, a former adviser to the Elysée, close to French Tech and who arrived at Lazard in the summer of 2022, who brought the two parties together.
The partnership does not end there, as Lazard Frères Gestion will also take a minority stake in the capital city of Elaia to allow it to develop its initial business, particularly in new sectors such as healthcare and decarbonisation. The two partners make no secret of it: if their association fulfills its promises, Lazard could continue to increase its stake in Elaia. “It’s a partnership that’s meant to last, and if we’re not mistaken, we’ll have the will to see it grow”acknowledges François-Marc Durand, director of Lazard Frères Gestion.