Investor interviews - The point of view of Sébastien Lalevée,
Managing Director at Financière Arbevel
Can you introduce us to your Fincière Arbevel ?
Financière Arbevel is an entrepreneurial asset management company founded 10 years ago. At the beginning, we managed around twenty million euros compared to a little over one billion seven today.
Originally we focused on investing in equities and listed SMEs, which is a segment we value very much. Over time we have diversified, first in themes such as technological breakthroughs and biotechnology, and in recent years private equity in technology, as well as more recently bonds and private debt
Why did you choose private debt to finance SMEs ?
Financing SMEs is a choice that is consistent with our business, because we are an asset management company but above all a research company that does asset management. In a way, an investment, whether in bonds or shares (listed or unlisted), can be summed up in a few fundamental principles: knowledge of management and knowledge of the business model. The rest is just a matter of the constraints inherent in the market in which we have invested. So moving from listed SMEs in equity to private equity and private debt was not such a complicated move, as long as we have the research teams to analyze the companies.
What are the benefits of this diversification and intermediary tool for SMEs ?
On the management side of an SME, it is important in our opinion that they can make an optimal capital allocation without going solely through equity, but also through debt. Private debt offerings are growing and are a coherent alternative to SME financing, and we wanted to help develop it, especially for smaller companies. Because if private debt is a well covered subject at the level of large companies, it is less the case for SMEs.
How can a platform like FirmFunding help to develop this market ?
The development of FirmFunding responds above all to a need because it is a meeting point for companies looking for investors. The recent development of FirmFunding shows that the need is real, so it is for Financière Arbevel a partner of choice for the development of private debt funds, as it will allow us to source and select qualified files that have already been filtered. It is therefore a useful tool for our own development.
Why did you become interested in SME financing ?
SME financing has always been the raison d'être of financial markets. At the beginning, the financial markets were the meeting place between financiers and companies seeking financing. We have forgotten it a little bit, but the allocation of capital and access to capital is fundamental for a company that is seeking to develop. In my opinion, it is our societal role and responsibility at Financière Arbevel, and for asset management companies in general, to be active in promoting the development of SMEs, which are, as we know, the primary source of employment for growth and development in a country.