France Invest, the French private equity industry body formerly known as AFIC, has named Ardian‘s Dominique Gaillard as its chair. Gaillard also becomes a director of the organisation.

Gaillard is chair of Ardian’s French executive board. He succeeds Eurazeo‘s Olivier Millet, who will also resign from his directorship of France Invest.

Dominique Gaillard

“While the French economic and political environment is positive, I want to continue to speed up reforms to make private equity one of the key pillars of French economic growth,” Gaillard said in a statement.

Gaillard has two main aims for his time in office, he told Real Deals. One of these is to overcome reluctance on the part of French family businesses to accept private equity investment.

“The French [private equity] market is suffering because two-thirds of buyout transactions are companies that go from one private equity player to another,” he said. “This is due to fact that family businesses are still quite reluctant to have help with creating growth and expanding internationally.”

His proposed solution is to create a France Invest task force to tackle this issue that will meet family-owned businesses and educate them about what private equity aims to do.

“We are not here to be short-term greedy investors but to be long-term investors alongside them to help them create value in the companies they own,” he said. “We will give them examples of where companies have developed much more quickly and efficiently thanks to the private equity community.”

Gaillard’s second key aim is to press for tax reforms that will help private equity firms wanting to share portfolio company value creation gains with employees. His own firm, Ardian, has done this on a number of occasions over the past decade.

He hopes that this reform could form part of PACTE (Plan d’action pour la croissance et la transformation des enterprises), an upcoming package of changes to French business law.

In addition, Gaillard wants to strengthen and improve the efficiency of France Invest’s GP/LP committee so it can effectively tackle issues such as harmonising LP information requests. Another aim relating to investors is to see French public sector bodies put more money into private equity, which could also be helped by changes to legislation, he thinks.

Outgoing president Millet, chair of Eurazeo PME and a member of the firm’s executive board, said of his time in office: “France Invest has made concrete proposals to strengthen the equity financing of start-ups, SMEs and intermediate-sized companies. It participated actively in economic policy discussions in the run-up to the 2017 presidential and general elections.”

“This sector’s growth trajectory has gathered momentum, and fundraising has doubled in five years. This puts us in a very good position to be players in the sustainable transformation of companies.”

Millet has been “a really good and very active president”, said Gaillard. He highlighted the sixteen propositions for French presidential candidates made by France Invest in the run-up to the 2017 presidential election as a key achievement. Several of these have been followed up by President Macron since he came to office, including a cut to wealth tax.

Gaillard also sees the organisation rebrand as an important step for the organisation during his predecessor’s time in office. “It was a good move to help us be recognised and understood more easily in [France’s] political and social environment,” he said. “AFIC was known only in the small environment of private equity players, while the name France Invest speaks for itself. We should have done this ten years ago.”

Gaillard joined Ardian on its foundation in 1997 and currently manages its buyout, expansion, growth, co-investment and infrastructure activities, and also launched its real estate division. He has supervised the raising of around 35 funds, representing around €20bn o0f AUM in total, and has been involved in the backing of more than 400 businesses.

Before joining Ardian he worked at Charterhouse, where he was a member of the executive board at the time of his departure. He began his career as an engineer.

He sat on the board of France Invest, then AFIC, from June 2011 to June 2015, and served as vice chair of its executive committee from June 2013 to June 2015. During these four years he headed the organisation’s investor relations efforts.

Gaillard will be supported by a new executive committee made up of three vice-chairs. These are Amundi’s Claire Chabrier, Capzanine’s Christophe Karvelis,and Andera Partners’ Antoine Le Bourgeois, who is also treasurer. France Invest’s Paul Perpère will be chief executive officer.

France Invest has also elected three new directors in addition to Gaillard: Arkéa Capital’s Marc Brière, Amundi’s Claire Chabrier and Sofinnova Partners’ Antoine Papiernik. They replace Naxicap Partners‘ Luc Bertholat, Innovacom’s Jérôme Faul, and Apax Partners‘ Caroline Rémus.