After five years of support, Gimv began the process of selling its equity stake in Claire Group in the first half of 2023. The planned transaction will bring in a new majority shareholder, Crédit Mutuel Equity, alongside Claire Group’s management in order to support the growth strategy being led by the company’s CEO, Damien Verhée.

Centred around the company Sainte-Lizaigne, based in the Indre department of central France, and armed with its 180 years of expertise, Claire Group is an historic leader for providing equipment and performance-improvement solutions for water distribution infrastructure. Committed to conserving water resources, the Group designs, manufactures, and distributes reliable, long-lasting equipment for the construction, upkeep, and restoration of water distribution infrastructure. In 2023, the company has brought in over €80M in revenue and has around 250 employees across six sites, with five in France and one in Germany.

Created as a spin-off from Veolia Group in 2011, Claire Group grew rapidly by carrying out over a half a dozen acquisitions in France and in Germany, with the goal of adding to its expertise in equipment and solutions for drinking water distribution infrastructure developed through R&D, particularly tools for controlling and managing water infrastructure. Such tools can be used, for example, to detect leaks and to remotely close a valve, thus enabling better water resource management.

Present in 40 countries and offering nine key areas of expertise, the Group offers its customers (water infrastructure operators, both public and private) a wide range of products (branch pipes, connectors, meter environment) for their infrastructure construction and renovation projects, as well as connected solutions allowing them to improve the management of infrastructure and detect leaks. With water resources becoming more scarce due to climate change, a situation characterised by increased periods of drought, the company is pursuing the synergies necessary for the success of its mission, in order to serve the greater good and future generations: facilitate access to water for all, both now and in the future.

Under the leadership of Damien Verhée, Claire Group aims to become a leading supplier of solutions for improving the performance of water infrastructure, and also to boost its international growth, with the support and network of Crédit Mutuel Equity, which will assist the Group with its growth, particularly through mergers and acquisitions.

“We are all now conscious of the fact that water is a rare and precious resource whose management is a crucial, strategic issue worldwide. And yet, in France alone, which has underinvested in drinking water infrastructure (40% of the total infrastructure is over 50 years old), the rate of leakage stands at over 20% of the water taken in, and if we do nothing, that problem will only get worse. While the general population is becoming concerned about this issue and national and local government authorities are tackling it, the amount of investment required is enormous and the way we manage our infrastructure must evolve. Our company hopes to contribute to these efforts and continue growing and providing reliable, innovative solutions to achieve that. For that reason, we are acquiring the means to take on that challenge by obtaining additional financial resources to support our strategy, with the backing of a new leading shareholder, Crédit Mutuel Equity,” explains Damien Verhée, CEO of Claire Group.

“The issue of conserving drinking water resources is crucial, and more than ever it is at the heart of our strategic considerations and the assistance we provide to companies. Claire Group, whose expertise dates all the way back to the mid-19th century, is innovating through its organisation and mission. We were won over by its strong R&D capacities and its regional anchoring, as well as its external growth strategy and its ability to diversify its business-line expertise. Our goal is to support Claire Group over a timeline adapted to its roadmap and to strengthen its positioning as a leader in the strategic water market,” adds Badri Ben Grine, Executive Director at Crédit Mutuel Equity. “The company’s history and expertise align perfectly with our responsible and sustainable investment philosophy.”

Completion of the transaction remains subject to agreement from bodies representing Claire Group personnel, as well as approval from France’s Market Competition Authority.

About Crédit Mutuel Equity

CCrédit Mutuel Equity is home to all of the private equity activities of Crédit Mutuel Alliance Fédérale: Capital Développement (Capital Development), Capital Transmission (Capital Transfer), and Capital Innovation.

Crédit Mutuel Equity provides capital support to business leaders at all stages of development of their companies—from start-up to ownership transfer—by giving them the resources and time required to implement their transformation projects. Crédit Mutuel Equity brings together over 350 business leaders, who share their beliefs and pose questions within a true network of entrepreneurs that allows each member, regardless of the nature of their project, to benefit from the experience of others. By investing its own capital (€4 billion), Crédit Mutuel Equity finances companies’ projects on timelines that are adapted to their growth strategies, in France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, and Canada.

For more information:

  • Crédit Mutuel Equity :
  • Badri Ben Grine
  • Thierry Aubert
  • Olivier Mironneau
  • Lise De Nicola
  • Gaétan Guyard
Buyer advisors
  • M&A and Financing: Amala (Jean-Baptiste Marchand, Nicolas Royer, Jad Sader)
  • Finance: Alvarez & Marsal (Benoit Bestion, Marie-Bérangère Memin)
  • Strategy: Advancy (Stepan Wildt, Pierre-Loup Lelasseux)
  • Corporate, Legal, and Social: Paul Hastings (Olivier Deren, Charlotte Dupont, Olivier Vermeulen, Marc Zerah, Stéphane Henry, Camille Paulhac)
  • Tax: Arsène Taxand (Charles Dalarun)
  • CSR/Compliance: ERM (Maryelle Ouvrard)
Groupe Claire
  • Damien Verhée, CEO
  • Gimv (Nicolas de Saint Laon)
  • Société Générale Capital Partenaires (Julien Krebs)
Sellers’ advisors
  • M&A: Rothschild & Cie (Pierpaolo Carpinelli, Jean-Christophe Quiniou)
  • Finance: KPMG (Mohamed Macaigne)
  • Strategy: Indefi & Amane (Julien Berger)
  • Legal, Tax and Social: PwC (Eric Hickel, Nicolas Arfel)
  • Management: Winston & Strawn (Grine Lareche, Thomas Pulcini); Coruscans (Benjamin Lobel)

Contact us