25 June 2020
On 6 February 2020, LACROIX Group, via its subsidiary LACROIX Electronics, and the Sociétés de Projets Industriels (SPI) fund administered by Bpifrance for the Investments for the Future Programme (PIA) and the European Investment Bank (EIB), announced the investment of €25 million in the creation of a joint Industry 4.0 company. Its mission? To support the development of SYMBIOSE, LACROIX Group’s electronic factory of the future project. Magali Joëssel, SPI fund director at Bpifrance, and Nicolas Bedouin, Chief Operating Officer and EVP Finance of LACROIX Group, shed some light on the merger and the way in which this financing model is illustrative of the industrial renewal we are experiencing in France today.
The Sociétés de Projets Industriels (SPI) fund, managed by Bpifrance and financed by the Investments for the Future Programme (PIA) and the European Investment Bank (EIB), mainly contributes equity to support innovative industrial projects which include an often risky start-up phase: creation of new production capacities; gaining technological expertise on an industrial scale; development of new markets, including export; structuring services for a given sector, etc. With €800 million raised in the form of equity and quasi-equity, the SPI fund invests in the form of a minority stake in project companies created in partnership with manufacturers, with the aim of moving their project into the industrialisation phase.
“SYMBIOSE is inspiring in many ways. The quality of the project, its regional dimension, and its ambition to embody industrial relocation in France were decisive criteria in our decision to commit and join forces with LACROIX Group.”
For Nicolas Bedouin, Bpifrance’s acquisition of a stake in SYMBIOSE is beneficial for several reasons. It makes it possible to invest in an even more ambitious project, and to share the risks, as well as the governance. This industry-focused partnership combines the talents of both organisations: LACROIX Group brings its very detailed knowledge of the business and its high level of technical expertise, and Bpifrance’s capital holding allows for objective choices and decisions.
“With SYMBIOSE, a 4.0 factory project, we are seeking to achieve technological breakthroughs.
The returns on investment from such projects are longer term, and we needed an alternative form of funding. This is what encouraged us to go for this co-investment with BPI.”
The project involves a joint investment of €25 million: €15 million contributed by Bpifrance and €10 million by LACROIX Group. Key to transformation in the future factory are: flow reconfiguration; robotisation; digitisation; opening of a production line entirely dedicated to large automated series; and training of the workforce. The expected benefits speak volumes: -12% in labour costs with trained teams focused on tasks providing the highest possible added value; -30% in energy costs; -10% in transport costs and -10 days of inventories cover in the historical scopes of activity of LACROIX Electronics: the industrial sector (transport, environment, energy networks, manufacturing industry), and the automotive, home automation, avionics and civil defence, and health sectors.
All of this will make it possible to rise to the challenges of promising new markets in a changing industry and achieve, with consistent staffing levels, significant growth in turnover of €30 million by 2027.
“We believe that SYMBIOSE will be all the more powerful in that it will be a flagship project of La French Fab 4.0. Having Bpifrance at our side means we can showcase this project even more and give recognition to its highly innovative and ambitious character, both in terms of technology and finance.”