Courvoisier looks to Asia

The Swiss wealth management firm plans to enter Asian private equity through commitments to primary funds, funds of funds and co-investments.

Courvoisier & Associates, a Geneva-based wealth management firm which manages investments in Europe, the Middle East and North America, is looking to expand its commitments to Asian private equity. 

The firm has also recruited Herb Stetzenmeyer as partner to oversee its investments in Asia. Stetzenmeyer was formerly responsible for the private equity investment programme at the Saudi-based Saad Group. 

“We have been looking at coming into Asia for a while now. We do have some experience there but with Herb coming on board, we will spend more time, resources and energy in that part of the world,” Kishore Gopaul, vice chairman and managing partner at the firm, told sister publication PEI Asia.

The firm’s investment strategy for Asia is still being shaped, but it will make commitments to private equity funds and funds of funds. “Funds of Asian private equity funds are clearly of interest to us as a way of ensuring that private equity investment portfolios are well diversified,” Stetzenmeyer said.

Courvoisier will work with “strategic partners” in Asia, Gopaul said. “The idea is to develop over time strategic partnerships with private equity groups in Asia where the firm can play an active role and not remain a passive LP,” he said. As such, it will make co-investments and work closely with the underlying portfolio companies of the funds it is invested in, helping them spread their operations in Europe or introducing them to other investors.

“As an example, we are now working with several Asian firms who require knowledge, expertise, or representation in western markets, and we are assisting them in identifying and assessing opportunities.  We are finding that investing in Asian private equity is actually a two-way street, and we are prepared to go both ways,” Stetzenmeyer said.
Along the private equity spectrum, the firm is more likely to be interested in venture capital and small- and mid-cap buyouts than in large buyouts, Stetzenmeyer said, adding that the firm is also interested in country-focused funds in larger markets such as China and India.

The firm does have prior investment experience in Asia, though not strictly in the realm of private equity. In 2002, Courvoisier created a Swiss-registered umbrella fund to invest in global equities and in 2005 a China-related fund was set up in partnership with a Swiss bank. This was sold to an Asian financial institution in 2008. At one stage, the fund had investments of more than $200 million in Chinese publicly traded equities. 

Courvoisier manages and supervises assets of more than $1 billion. Its client base comprises mainly Middle Eastern and European high net worth individuals. It was established in 1987 as a result of a management buyout of Geneva-based Kidder Peabody Private Asset Management. Courvoisier is headed by Aimé Courvosier, who is the firm’s chairman and a managing partner.