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Athene expects to deploy $4B growth vehicle by Q4

The $4 billion fund that Apollo Global Management LLC is raising for Athene Holding Ltd. will allow Athene to pursue larger and more types of deals while freeing up capital to repurchase more shares, Athene executives said.

Fundraising for the investment vehicle, called Athene Co-Invest Reinsurance Affiliate, or ACRA, is mostly on schedule and should be included in the company's financial results by the fourth quarter, Chairman and CEO James Belardi said during a conference call to discuss second-quarter earnings.

The affiliate will allow investors to participate in Athene's private deals and will extend Athene's M&A strategy of buying companies with platforms it wants as well as purchasing reinsurance blocks, said Belardi, who is also a company co-founder and chief investment officer. The vehicle is planned as a long-term, "on-demand" capital vehicle intended to fund inorganic growth, he added.

Athene believes that most of the available acquisition opportunities are block transactions, but ACRA will broaden the scope of potential deals, including for whole companies, CFO Martin Klein said.

"It allows us to set our sights bigger because there's so much more capital ... available to us when we get it fully funded than has been the case historically," he said.

That extra capital will give Athene the option to repurchase more shares beyond its current $1 billion authorization if its share price remains depressed relative to its earnings, Belardi said.

"Stock buybacks are at the top of the list right now as far as accretive ways to deploy capital," he said.

The affiliate vehicle is one of seven funds for which Apollo began to raise funds in 2019 totaling some $9 billion. ACRA will be aligned with and controlled by Athene, said President William Wheeler.