CDC hires ex-Permira exec as chairman

Graham Wrigley, whose previous board chairmanships include emerging markets firm Aureos, joins the UK institution as it continues its shift towards direct investing.

CDC Group, the UK government’s development finance institution, has hired Graham Wrigley as chairman. 

Wrigley, whose appointment follows a competitive process to fill the post, will join the organisation in 2014. He will succeed Richard Gillingwater, who has been chairman since April 2010. 

Wrigley is a former partner of Permira, where he worked for 17 years. He left the buyout firm in 2006 to embark on a career focused on developing markets. The move saw him become chairman of Aureos, an emerging markets-focused GP that was purchased by The Abraaj Group, as well as a director of CASHPOR, a microfinance organisation targeting India’s poor. 

His appointment comes as CDC accentuates its shift towards direct investing, a strategy change it first announced last year. Traditionally focused on commitments to third-party funds, the institution created two teams dedicated to direct private equity and debt investments in 2012, in a bid to achieve more targeted impact and boost job creation in its regions of operation. 

This move led it to provide $32.5 million in quasi-equity loan to Export Trading Group, as part of a $210 million transaction involving The Carlyle Group, Standard Chartered and South Africa-based Pembani Remgro Infrastructure Fund. It also committed $30 million to Investec’s Africa Credit Opportunities Fund I, the first corporate debt fund in Sub-Saharan Africa, last February. 

This change in strategy also comes amid a redefinition of CDC’s geographical remit, which now exclusively consists of Africa and South Asia’s developing economies. The organisation hired Dolika Banda for the newly-created role of Africa regional director last July to facilitate this move, and expects to recruit up to three more regional directors in the coming years. 

The institution made nine new commitments last year – comprising seven fund investments and two direct deals – bringing its total net assets to around £2.8 billion (€3.3 billion, $4.4 billion). Close to 43 percent of CDC’s investment last year – £171 million in total – was made in Africa.