ESG becoming a prerequisite for some LPs

We talk with executives at Abris Capital about the rapid growth of ESG-minded investors; GPB Capital says it was 'stunned' its former CCO was indicted by the SEC; and details on MBK Partners’ latest flagship fund.

Riverside: At a breakfast meeting at NYC’s Rainbow Room, Riverside Company executives said the industry is getting much better at proactively telling its story: focusing on growing businesses, many of them with definitively positive social impacts.

They cited work done by the likes of the American Investment Council and the Small Business Investors Alliance (the presidents of both acted as witnesses on Tuesday’s House hearing). “We thought the important word in our descriptor was ‘private,’” said co-CEO Stewart Kohl. “We’re not supposed to talk about what we do… That does hurt us. I believe strongly that private equity is overwhelmingly a force for good, not evil.”

The team also said it is not the case that LP money in the industry is overwhelming funds’ ability to put it to work. “I wish that were the case,” said co-CEO Stewart Kohl, noting that the market is extremely competitive.

On positioning for a recession, Kohl and other executives stressed that the answer is “more micro than macro” – focusing on companies in industries at an inflection point. Kohl said the firm will likely invest $1.3 billion this year, up from $1.1 billion last year, largely on small companies fitting that description.

On to the news.

Going for green: Brian Bonilla speaks with Poland’s Abris Capital about becoming a United Nations Sustainable Development Goals signatory and the firm’s ESG policy. “When we were raising fund number two, 40 percent of our LPs were signatories to PRI,” said partner Monika Nahcyla. “When we raised fund three, 82 percent were signatories of PRI.” She added that having an ESG policy is “almost a prerequisite” now.

Cannibal cops: Regulatory Compliance Watch’s Bill Myers brings us an update on GPB Capital’s revolving door scandal. Former CCO Michael Cohn was indicted on charges that when he was an SEC officer, he leaked details of investigations by the agency into GPB. But he may get some help in his defense from a 2015 overturning of ‘cannibal cop’ Gilberto Valle’s conviction. One lawyer says he expects GPB to see a “rush of litigation.” The firm said it was stunned by Cohn’s indictment.

Email prepared by Graham Bippart