Lion Capital Enters Exclusive Talks With France’s Alain Afflelou

Lion Capital LLP has entered exclusive talks to buy the French eyeglass retailer Alain Afflelou SA from its private equity owners Bridgepoint Advisers Ltd. and Apax Partners LLP, the firms said in a joint statement.

Lion Capital last week offered about 800 million euros ($1.1 billion) as it vied with Bain Capital for the asset, said a person with knowledge of the matter. The buyout is set to be France’s largest private equity deal so far this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Bridgepoint, a buyout fund manager based in London, bought a majority stake in Alain Afflelou in 2006, when its eponymous founder sought to plan his succession. The deal valued the company at about 500 million euros. Altamir Amboise, a French holding company that also holds a stake in Alain Afflelou, is one of the firms in exclusive talks to sell.

Alain Afflelou operates a network of 1,100 optical retail stores in countries including France, Spain, Switzerland and Portugal, according to the company’s website. The company had about 800 million euros in sales last year, according to the statement today.

Bridgepoint was advised by Rothschild and used Latham & Watkins LLP for legal advice. Lion Capital was advised by Lazard Ltd., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and SJ Berwin LLP. Citigroup, UniCredit SpA and Alcentra Ltd. provided financing for the deal. The deal is set to be completed by June, according to the statement.

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