The UK state-backed development finance institution, CDC Group, has appointed former Children’s Investment Fund Foundation director Colin Buckley as its chief operating officer.
In his latest role, Buckley will be responsible for improving the effectiveness of CDC’s organisation to deliver its new strategy.
“We are still in the midst of refining that strategy but its best summarised by [the secretary of state for international development] Andrew Mitchell’s statement of wanting to do the hardest thing in the hardest places,” Buckley told Private Equity International.
“It’s going to be expanding our reach into more difficult geographies and expanding the type of investments that we are doing into a broader range of investments,” he added.
CDC, which has typically operated as a fund of funds, will use more direct equity investments to target businesses with potential development and debt investments targeting frontier markets where investment infrastructure is under-developed.
Previously CDC has invested in Advent International, Actis and Berkeley Partners funds among others.
The firm’s investment policy changed in 2011, with the focus narrowing to target small to medium sized enterprises solely in Africa and South Asia.
Buckley has experience of these regions as he headed the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation’s expansion of health, education and nutrition programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Despite his previous experience future investment in the area will not be plain sailing, he said.
“One has to be wary about making generalisations about the challenges of doing programs and investments in various developing countries. Every one of these countries presents its own challenges,” said Buckley.
While at the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) he managed around $400 million in US government funding overseeing infrastructure projects and grants to small agricultural enterprises. He also set up an investment fund aimed at SMEs in rural Georgia.
CDC previously invested in emerging markets such as Latin America, Central Asia and China but will no longer invest in these areas as CDC’s “capital is no longer needed”, according to its website.
CDC currently has net assets of £2.6 billion ($4 billion; €3.2 billion).