Back in 2008, when investing in China was still very much an outsider play, Hopu Investment Management came to market seeking $2.5 billion for its debut fund. It could have been seen as risky for an outfit like Shell Asset Management, which manages the oil and gas company’s pension funds, to line up alongside cornerstone investors Temasek and Goldman Sachs Asset Management. But invest it did, in what turned out to be one of the first and few truly stellar funds to focus on China.
In the driver’s seat was the head of private equity Europe and emerging markets Maurice Simons, a 12-year Shell veteran, whose intelligence and focus has drawn widespread praise. An investor relations professional at a US buyout firm praised his balanced view of investment opportunities, not giving undue prominence to some things at the cost of others. A London-based placement agent spoke of his focus not just on the record of the GP, but on the individuals that comprise its investment team.
“He’s been around so long and that counts for a huge amount,” he said. “He’ll try to work out, what can I learn that the market doesn’t understand about this individual? It’s all about the individual for him”.
Private equity was the highest performing asset class for Shell Pension Fund Foundation in 2018, delivering 13.4 percent, according to its latest annual report. In its 2017 report, SSPF stated that relative to the value of investments in the public equity markets, private equity outperformed over 7, 10 and 15 year periods by 3.1 percent, 0.9 percent and 4.2 percent per year, respectively.
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