(SIFEM) August 18, 2011 – Since 2005, SIFEM (“Swiss Investment Fund for Emerging Markets”), a Swiss limited company based in Bern, has managed a portfolio of development-oriented private equity, mezzanine, debt and structured investments on behalf of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) of Switzerland.
In August 2011, the Swiss Confederation has acquired SIFEM, which holds the investment portfolio, thereby completing SIFEM’s transformation into a full-fledged, capitalised Development Finance Institution. SIFEM remains a member of the association of European Development Finance Institutions (EDFI), which unites it with its sister organisations from other European countries. With its activities in Latin America dating back to 1995, SIFEM will continue to invest in the region, where it has supported numerous private equity fund managers in Colombia, Peru and Central America, among others.
Obviam, a newly founded and privately-owned management advisory group, has been entrusted with the management of SIFEM. The senior management of Obviam has been in charge of managing SIFEM’s investment portfolio since the 1990s and formed Obviam in order to continue this activity. The choice to outsource the management of SIFEM to a private company was motivated by the Swiss Confederation’s objective of mobilising private investments for development. Obviam’s private ownership and organisation enables the team to accept other mandates and thereby leverage private capital for investment in SIFEM’s target countries.
The Swiss government has selected an experienced Board of Directors for SIFEM. Within the scope of strategic objectives established by the Swiss government, the Board will determine SIFEM’s investment strategy and supervise its outsourced management. The Board is chaired by the former State Secretary and World Bank Executive Director Jean-Daniel Gerber. He will be seconded by Vice-Chairman Michel Juvet, a private banker at Bordier & Cie in Geneva. The other members of the Board are Julia Balandina, Jean-Luc Bernasconi, Hugo Fasel, Susanne Grossmann and Iain Tulloch. The Board of Directors will report to its shareholder, the Government of Switzerland, which will be represented by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs.
The investment mandate of SIFEM remains largely unchanged. SIFEM is a key pillar of the Swiss Confederation’s efforts to promote sustainable private sector-led growth in developing and transition economies with the goal of reducing poverty and contributing to increased living standards. Through its local partners SIFEM invests in companies that are most likely to be financially sustainable, and requires environmental, social and governance best practice. Moreover, SIFEM’s investments are development-oriented, aiming to achieve a broad set of objectives beyond the financial rate of return such as job creation, training, and sector deepening and diversification. SIFEM can only invest in countries with GNI per capita below the World Bank’s IBRD graduation threshold (currently at USD 6,725). The partner countries of the Swiss development cooperation are treated with priority. At least 60% of SIFEM’s investment volume in any year must be allocated to these priority countries.
For more information about SIFEM please visit: www.sifem.ch
For more information about Obviam please visit: www.obviam.ch