Carlyle’s Cyril Bourdarot: Opportunities in fragmented auto software sector

'We will look at all options when it comes to growing the business – both organic and acquisitive,' said Bourdarot of Groupe Lacour.

Cyril Bourdarot, The Carlyle Group

The Carlyle Group will enter new market segments and broaden Lacour’s product offering by utilising the “highly fragmented” automotive support software sector, Cyril Bourdarot, managing director with Carlyle Europe Technology Partners (CETP), told PE Hub Europe.

Headquartered in Saint-Doulchard in France, Groupe Lacour provides software for the automotive after-sales value chain. The company’s products support vehicle repair and maintenance, including document management systems, costing solutions and parts databases.

Carlyle agreed to take a majority stake in the firm earlier in January.

“We will look at all options when it comes to growing the business – both organic and acquisitive,” Bourdarot said. “We believe Lacour’s specific sector – software support for the automotive sector – is highly fragmented across Europe and so we believe there may be an opportunity for growth there.”

Lacour already has “excellent” R&D capabilities, according to Bourdarot, and the company is already exploring new areas, namely AI modules and SaaS delivery models through products such as Iris and Mosaic. “Our intention is to try to support its growth as a one-stop-shop solution provider for the automotive after-sales value chain, and we expect this will entail entering new market segments and broadening the product offering,” Bourdarot explained.

While Carlyle sees further growth potential within France, it has already identified other countries to focus on down the road. These include Germany, Spain, Italy, the UK and Belgium. “We believe these countries in particular are promising for Lacour because they have fragmented DMS (Document Management Systems) markets and there may be an opportunity for consolidation driven by Lacour’s innovative product offering,” Bourdarot said.

Familiar road

Automotive and its supporting software sectors aren’t a leap into the unknown for Carlyle. In 2021, the firm acquired Autoform, a provider of engineering software for sheet-metal- forming simulation used primarily in the automotive industry, from Astorg. Other investments in the sectors include Metrologic Group, Axalta, Allison Transmission, United Components and Tempo Participações.

Lacour is a “perfect example” of a company that CETP focuses on, according to Bourdarot. CETP aims to internationalise companies in the lower mid-market business-to-business technology sector in Europe. “We also like partnering with entrepreneurs and founders in primary deals – as we have done with Lacour, partnering with the CEO and founder, Angelo Maida.”

In that focus sector, CETP sees a range of opportunities. Bourdarot and his team believe that the European B2B tech sector has seen less impact, across both public and private markets, from the turbulent macroeconomic and geopolitical environment than some others, such as the business-to-consumer technology sector.

“In terms of what is driving deals, we believe that there is still demand for consolidation, growth, and/or diversification in the sector, especially as the number of entrepreneur-run and family-owned businesses which remain in the fragmented European market continue to look for the next level of growth or expansion opportunities.”