Further strengthening the drive for business growth and expansion since its acquisition of WMS Group (UK) Ltd (WMS) in 2020, Opteven, a European leader in mechanical breakdown, assistance and vehicle maintenance insurance and services, announces the sale by Ardian to Apax of its majority shareholding in its capital.
Based in Lyon, France, Opteven is a multi-service and insurance group which has been providing expertise in vehicle warranties, vehicle maintenance services, and roadside assistance services, for more than 20 years. The company is both a leading provider of mechanical breakdown guarantees in Europe and one of the main players in the French roadside assistance market, as well as being the European partner for most of UK’s largest roadside assistance companies.
Due to its unique positioning, which combines insurance and mechanical breakdown cover, the Opteven group has become the only player to operate on a single state-of-the-art management platform in the five largest European automotive markets, comprised of; France, Spain, United Kingdom, Germany and Italy. Opteven currently operates in nine countries in total, but has plans to expand into even more markets in 2023 and beyond.
The company, which is led by a skilled management team, has doubled its revenues every five years since it was founded in 1985. Its sustainable growth has also been fueled by used vehicle sales, in addition to an ever-increasing share of financing contracts and the growing popularity of electric vehicles.
The group has built solid, long-term relationships with key clients, including car manufacturers, banks and insurers, long-term leasing companies, insurance brokers and car dealers, and markets most of its contracts through a B2B2C model.
This year, Opteven launched its new growth strategy, Highway25, built upon its existing market knowledge and the management’s vision for growth. This strategy aims to meet the main challenges facing motorists in the coming years: the transition to electric, hybrid and bio-fuel powered vehicles; digitalization; the development of driverless cars; and the growth of subscription models in the industry. This strategic plan is designed to power Opteven’s expansion both in France and Internationally by achieving ambitious growth objectives, anticipating changes in the market and developing innovative services in-line with the evolving needs of customers.
Throughout its partnership with the Expansion Team at Ardian, Opteven accelerated its adoption of digital technologies. This was largely through the introduction of its “Digital Factory”, a dedicated unit for the design and development of innovative products to enhance user experience, to increase customer loyalty and drive acquisitions. Opteven also tripled the size of its dedicated digitalization team during this period. To boost its organic growth, the Group also increased its presence in Europe, opening two new businesses in Spain and Germany in addition to expanding its operations into Austria. The Group further strengthened its share of the automotive retail market by acquiring two mechanical breakdown warranty specialists based in France and the United Kingdom. Since 2018, the number of employees in the company has more than doubled; in 2021, the Group’s 850 employees generated €260 million in revenue, with over 30% of this from international markets.
With Apax as shareholder, the Opteven group seeks to accelerate its international development, namely by pursuing continued external growth to strengthen its position as European leader. With this new investment, Apax consolidates its expertise in financial services, following the one in the Independent Financial Advisors’ leader Crystal Group two years ago. Apax is participating in the transaction through its Apax Midmarket X fund, raising €1.6 billion in 2021.
The transaction remains subject to the approval of the ACPR and the FCA, as well as the antitrust authorities.
Marie Arnaud-Battandier, Managing Director within Ardian’s Expansion team comments: “We are delighted to have been able to work alongside Opteven’s teams. They have significantly developed the company by pushing forward the group’ s global expansion and digitalization, while continuing to provide high quality services and prioritizing corporate social responsibility. We are pleased to pass the baton to a quality partner such as Apax Partners and we wish them great success”.
Neil Monks, Retail Sales & Customer Services Director at WMS, says: “With the support of one of the world’s largest and most well-established private equity firms, the financial security which this affords Opteven and in turn WMS Group, is immense. We are extremely proud to be part of this transition as Opteven strives forward with the ambitious plan to grow its European presence. It’s an exciting time to be part of the journey as we continue to revolutionise the warranty sector in the UK.”
Jean-Matthieu Biseau President of Opteven, adds: “We would like to thank Ardian teams for their commitment over the last few years and are pleased to be able to rely on the support of the teams at Apax Partners in the deployment of our new strategies. Together, we will carry out our expansion projects and anticipate changes in the mobility market to ensure that Opteven’s sustainable growth momentum continues. In this respect, we would also like to acknowledge the confidence that Apax Partners has placed in Opteven’s teams. This confidence confirms that the stability of the management team is one of the keys to Opteven’s success.”