Private equity funds are usually created to run for about ten years, covering a five-year investment period and a five-year divestment period. The fund is managed and advised by a management company. The staff of the management company are permanent, whereas the funds are investment tools with a limited lifespan.
The French government is aware of the how important venture capital is as a source of financing and it has created a variety of vehicles with appropriate tax treatment for these types of transactions:
- Venture capital companies (SCRs) and single-member venture capital companies (SUIRs), for individual investors. These two types of company – introduced in 1985 and 2004, respectively – are explicitly exempt from corporate income tax, in exchange for compliance with certain statutory requirements.
- Venture capital investment funds (FCPRs), which were introduced by the Act of 3 January 1983. These are special investment funds aimed at providing appropriate financing for small and medium-sized enterprises. They are generally intended for institutional investors and enjoy tax breaks, subject to certain rules. Other types of investment funds created in this category are innovation funds (FCPIs), created in 1997, which are also used for growth capital and available to retail investors, entitling them to a tax deduction, and local investment funds (FIPs), introduced in 2003 to finance grassroots projects. In 1999 another type of product was launched: the venture capital fund with streamlined procedures. These funds, which have more flexible operating rules, do not require authorisation from the securities regulator and are intended for qualified investors only.
Professional OPCI (Real-Estate Collective Investment Schemes), also referred to as OPPCI
- As of the creation of Real-Estate Collective Investment Schemes (Organismes de Placement Collectif Immobilier – “OPCI”), with a view to complete the range of these new investment vehicles, legislators authorised the design of vehicles aimed more specifically at institutional investors and which benefited from more flexible rules, better suited to these investors’ needs. These vehicles were referred to, at the time and until the adoption of ordinance no 2013-676 of 25 July 2013 modifying the legal framework for asset management, as Real-Estate Collective Investment Schemes with Streamlined Operating Rules (OPCI à Règle de Fonctionnement Allégée – “OPCI RFA”), with or without leverage.
- From then on, Leveraged Real-Estate Collective Investment Schemes with Streamlined Operating Rules (OPCI à Règles de Fonctionnement Allégées avec Effet de Levier – “OPCI RFA EL”), which used to represent the largest number of created vehicles, were replaced by Professional Real-Estate Collective Investment Schemes (Organismes professionnels de placement collectif immobilier – “OPPCI”). The former Unleveraged Real-Estate Collective Investment Schemes with Streamlined Operating Rules (OPCI à Règles de Fonctionnement Allégées sans Effet de Levier – “OPCI RFA SEL”), with no leverage, which were rather few and whose subscription conditions remained flexible as compared to those of the OPCI RFA EL, now belong to the category commonly referred to as “general public” OPCI. Their legal regime, globally very close to that of OPCI, even though it benefits from more flexible ratios and investment rules than those of the “general public” OPCI, has become the basic regime for OPCI since 2013.
- Aimed at professional investors, and at their foreign equivalents, OPPCI are permitted to derogate from some ratios imposed on OPCI, in particular regarding liquidity, and even more significantly regarding borrowing capacities. Indeed, liabilities may represent up to around 100% of real-estate assets, while they are limited to 40% only for OPCI (this risk limit also used to be imposed on the former RFA SEL).