Apollo Said to Seek $2.1 Billion for Athene Dealmaking in Europe

  • Athene has said Europe opportunity larger than first thought
  • Fundraising could be completed this year, person says

Apollo Global Management LLC is seeking 2 billion euros ($2.1 billion) to help annuity seller Athene Holding Ltd. expand in Europe through takeovers, according to a person familiar with the plan.

The private equity firm is approaching institutional investors and will also contribute its own funds to the venture as will Bermuda-based Athene, said the person, who asked not to be identified discussing a private plan.

Belardi rings bell at NYSE in 2016.

Photographer: Richard Drew/AP Photo

Athene Chief Executive Officer Jim Belardi is seeking to extend growth after building the insurer into one of the largest sellers of fixed annuities in the U.S. and taking the company public in December. The CEO’s strategy is to accumulate assets at favorable prices through retirement contracts and then reinvest in holdings such as credit funds and middle-market lending to generate better returns than rivals who rely more on lower-yielding bonds.

In Europe, “we have come to realize that the opportunity over the next several years is larger than we initially anticipated,” Athene said in a regulatory filing last month. “In order to fully capitalize on this opportunity, we would need to commit capital to the European market at a level in excess of our targeted investment size, creating the need for third-party capital to support growth.”

Athene’s investment portfolio was valued at more than $70 billion at the end of last year. Apollo counts the insurer as a top holding and collects fees for managing its assets.

‘Sizable Equity Stake’

Belardi’s firm expanded in Europe through a 2015 acquisition in Germany. With other investors contributing new capital to a venture on the Continent, Athene’s Europe operation might no longer be a company subsidiary. Instead, Athene would have a “sizable equity stake,” according to the filing. Also, Athene could be a reinsurer on policies issued by the company.

Apollo may complete the fundraising as early as this year, said the person. With leverage and co-investments by Apollo clients, the insurer could have flexibility to pursue deals larger than 2 billion euros.

Representatives from Apollo and Athene declined to comment Wednesday. Athene President Bill Wheeler said in a March 16 conference call that the company could raise outside capital for growth in Europe.

“We continue to work on those plans,” Wheeler said. “Our expectation is that’s going to continue to move forward.”

— With assistance by Melissa Mittelman

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