EVCA elects Sofinnova’s Schmidt chairman

Jean-Bernard Schmidt will focus his agenda for the coming year on promoting harmonisation and transparency in order to make European private equity a more investor-friendly place.

The European Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (EVCA), meeting in Vienna at its 20th annual general assembly, today elected Jean-Bernard Schmidt, chairman and managing partner at French high-tech venture capital firm Sofinnova Partners, as chairman for the period June 2003 to June 2004.

Schmidt takes over from Max Burger-Calderon, executive director at U.K. firm Apax Partners, who has held the position since June 2002.

According to a statement, Schmidt’s key concern is the promotion of harmonisation and transparency with the objective to make the private equity and venture capital industry in Europe more understandable and a more favorable place to invest.

Key issues Schmidt will address include the development of a single European fund structure, which would ensure tax transparency for venture capital operations within the EU; benchmarking tax and legal environments; and initiating an efficient European stock market for high growth companies.

“I will take over the Association’s chairmanship at a time when most European businesses are either Pan-European, if not global,” Schmidt said in the statement. “Yet at the same time, we are missing a harmonized and transparent European market in terms of taxation, regulation, a true single European fund structure or a European stock market for high-growth companies.”

Schmidt has been with Sofinnova since 1974. In 1981, he became chairman of Sofinnova Inc. in San Francisco, where he participated in Sofinnova’s U.S. funds as part of a partnership with Burr, Egan & Deléage. In 1987, he returned to Paris to head the Sofinnova group. Working from his experience in the US, he began focusing Sofinnova's investments on technology and early stage companies, specifically in IT and life sciences. In 1989, he launched the first Sofinnova Capital fund. He is past and current board member of technology companies in both the U.S. and France and from 1998 to 2001 was a board member at AFIC, the French national private equity and venture capital association.