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BVA Group Management / Shareholder Buyout Approved

January 20 2021

The management team of French research and consulting firm BVA Group and its main shareholder Naxicap (together known as XPage) have been given the green light to acquire the company, which went into receivership last summer. The group's US arm has been acquired by British asset management firm Alcentra.

Pascal GaudinBVA is the owner of packaging and shopper insights agency PRS IN VIVO, which was created in January 2016 by a merger of PRS (Perception Research Services) and IN VIVO. Two years later, BVA acquired London-based consumer insight firm BDRC, as well as a 30% stake in French insights-led communication company Babel, and then acquired Italian market research and opinion polling business Doxa. The group also includes the BVA Nudge Unit, which applies behavioural science to drive organisational transformational change.

Last summer, BVA filed for bankruptcy when its lender Alcentra and XPage failed to agree a deal to support the group following losses caused by lockdown measures in France. According to financial information and analytics provider S&P Global, Alcentra alleged that Naxicap and BVA's management team were planning to offload EUR 140m of existing debt using a piece of Covid-related legislation, which makes it simpler for management teams in receivership to buy back their businesses. Potentially, this can be for a low figure, leaving existing lenders with a loss.

Four offers were received to acquire BVA - from Alcentra, XPage, market research and polling firm IFOP, and French entrepreneur Christophe Ginisty - but last week, the Commercial Court of Toulouse ruled in favor of XPage, allowing the group to buy the French operations of BVA out of insolvency. XPage had argued that a foreign fund might dismantle the workforce, despite Alcentra's assurances to the contrary.

On hearing the court's decision, Nicolas Besson, Executive Director at Alcentra, said that while his firm was disappointed with the ruling, it will now dedicate its energy to its investment in the American entity PRS IN VIVO USA, where he explained that 'performance remains extremely solid despite the pandemic', and which he says has strong growth potential on a global scale.

BVA Group, whose CEO is Pascal Gaudin (pictured), is online at www.bva-group.com .

All articles 2006-23 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas, 2024- by Nick Thomas, unless otherwise stated.

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