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Wendel Posts Jump in Asset Value on Saint-Gobain, Bureau Veritas

Wendel, Europe’s second-largest publicly traded private-equity firm, said the value of its holdings rose 36 percent as equity markets advanced.

Wendel climbed as much as 5.8 percent in Paris trading after reporting a net asset value of 85.70 euros a share as of Nov. 23, up from 63.20 euros on Aug. 25. Cash rose to 1.94 billion euros ($2.6 billion) from 1.6 billion euros, and debt without margin calls fell by 305 million euros to 970 million euros, the Paris-based investment firm said today.

“It’s in our plans” to resume investments, Chief Executive Officer Frederic Lemoine said during a presentation to analysts. “We’ve been actively preparing for new acquisitions. The market has seemed expensive sometimes, we want to be selective.”

Private-equity firms are boosting the valuations of their assets after a rebound in equity markets. Wendel owns 17 percent of Europe’s largest building material supplier, Compagnie de Saint-Gobain SA, and 51 percent of French goods inspection company Bureau Veritas SA, and benefited from gains in the companies’ shares. The firm, which is holding an investors’ day today, lifted the value of its investments in private companies, including building material company Materis SA, by 55 percent.

Wendel shares rose 2.63 euros, or 4.2 percent, to 64.80 euros by 11:13 a.m. in Paris, bringing the gain this year to 51 percent.

Stake Sales

Lemoine was appointed CEO in April 2009 after Jean-Bernard Lafonta left amid a row with members of the controlling family over the firm’s investment strategy following the acquisition of the stake in Saint-Gobain. Since then, the firm, which traces its roots to the 18th century when the Wendel family started building a steel empire in northeastern France, has extended its debt maturities and sold assets to boost cash.

Wendel in September said it made a capital gain of about 230 million euros on the sale of a 5.5 percent stake in electrical products supplier Legrand SA. In October, it said the proceeds from a sale of its 46 percent stake in French allergy medicines maker Stallergenes SA to Ares Life Sciences would result in a capital gain of 300 million euros.

Wendel said the value of its unlisted assets will stand between 1.5 billion euros and 2.5 billion euros by the end of 2013, from 780 million euros currently, Lemoine said today in the presentation to analysts.

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