PERTH investment banking group Argonaut has sold a 20 per cent stake in the business to Apollo Asia Opportunity Master Fund, LP, and formed a strategic alliance with Apollo for its new merchant banking division. Argonaut executive chairman Charles Fear said Apollo was the third largest private equity firm in the world. The funds invested by Apollo have helped Argonaut establish Argonaut Equity Partners, which together with Apollo will enable the firm to finance transactions as principal. Initially, Argonaut will typically look at financings in the resources sector of up to $50 million, but will not be restricted to resources. Mr Fear said the group’s other strategic relationships would give it the capacity to do financings for the right transactions up to $500 million. He described the Apollo investment as a strong endorsement of the business that Argonaut had built in its corporate advisory, stockbroking and research, and funds management divisions. “Argonaut has grown rapidly over the last six years, and this relationship with Apollo provides a strong basis for continued growth and diversification in our business,” Mr Fear said. Argonaut managing director Eddie Rigg said the alliance in relation to Argonaut’s new merchant banking division, Argonaut Equity Partners, was a key driver of Apollo’s investment in Argonaut for both parties. “Argonaut provides Apollo with a strong presence in the natural resources sector, and access to high quality technical expertise and Australian deal flow,” he said. “From Argonaut’s perspective, the alliance enables us to pursue larger opportunities. The addition of a partner with the balance sheet strength, structuring expertise and reputation of Apollo allows Argonaut Equity Partners to significantly upscale its business.” Mark Beyer
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