Eurazeo links 19% share drop to Lehman collapse

The publicly listed private equity firm has said the fall in its share price Tuesday was probably due to an unnamed financial institution being forced to unwind a Eurazeo securities-backed loan, to which Lehman was the counterparty.

Listed European private equity firm Eurazeo has asked French regulatory authorities to investigate a 19 percent drop in its share price Tuesday, which the Paris-based firm suspects is related to the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

“It appears that the exaggerated movement in the share price was technical and likely to have been the result of a financial institution being forced to unwind a lending position guaranteed by Eurazeo shares, to which Lehman was the counterparty,” the firm said in a statement.

It stressed that if indeed this is correct, the drop has no relation to Eurazeo’s fundamentals.

The firm’s chief executive, Patrick Sayer, on Tuesday refuted reports that its largest shareholders – banks Credit Agricole and UBS, Italian insurance firm Assicurazioni Generali, and Eurazeo’s founding shareholders – had sold the positions.

“We have spoken to all our large shareholders today and they have assured us that they are not sellers,” Sayer told Dow Jones. “They are more likely to be buyers of the stock given its current share price.”

On Tuesday the firm’s stock closed at €51 ($73) per share, but recouped some of its loss on Wednesday and was trading at €56.30 per share at press time.

Eurazeo is listed on the Euronext Paris and has €5 billion under management.

The firm’s co-investment arm, Eurazeo Co-Investment Partners, was launched last year and closed a $500 million fund in March 2007; its investments in Eurazeo portfolio companies have included rental car company Europcar and European car parking company Apcoa.