Sofina, the investment company run by the Belgian Boël family, has sold its interest in Eurazeo as it furthers its own direct investment strategy.

The firm previously owned around a five per cent stake in the business, constituting around 3.5 million shares which it sold in a private placement for €58.20 apiece.

Eurazeo itself bought back one million shares, which was accretive for the firm’s shareholders at a discount of more than 20 per cent to NAV as of March 17, 2017.

Over the past few years, Sofina has been developing its own private equity direct investment business. According to Eurazeo, the sale of the stake represents part of this policy.

Sofina has been a shareholder in the entity which is now Eurazeo, and was formerly Eurafrance and Gaz et Eaux before their merger in in 2001, since 1990.

Richard Goblet d’Alviella, former chief executive of Sofina, served on Eurazeo’s supervisory board from 2002 to 2016. Harold Boël, the current chief executive, has been on the board since 2016 and will retain his position following the sale of his stake.

Sofina began life in 1898 as an engineering and financing company, active in the energy and transport sectors. It listed in 1910, and became an investment company in the years between 1965 and 1970.

Around that time the Boël family took the executive lead, and the firm has since invested in businesses such as Belgian retailer Colruyt, food company Danone, and refrigerated vehicle fleet Petit Forestier.

Société Générale Corporate & Investment Banking acted as sole bookrunner on the sale of Sofina’s stake in Eurazeo.