LeapFrog taps ex-Axa chief for impact leadership council – exclusive

Henri de Castries – who led the €1.4trn French insurance giant from 2000 to 2016 – will provide the firm’s board with new relationships and strategic guidance.

LeapFrog Investments, a London-headquartered impact investor, has appointed the former chief executive and chairman of insurance giant Axa to a newly-formed leadership council.

Henri de Castries, who led the €1.4 trillion French institution from 2000 to 2016, will provide LeapFrog’s board with new relationships and strategic guidance, according to a statement. De Castries is chairman of Europe at global growth equity firm General Atlantic and president of European public policy think tank Institut Montaigne.

The two-strong council also includes Dominic Barton, a senior partner and former global managing partner at management consultancy McKinsey. The pair will be joined by additional council members with regional and industry expertise later this year.

“Each has encouraged institutional investors to bring long-term, sustainable and impact investing to the forefront of their portfolios,” LeapFrog founder Andrew Kuper said in the statement.

LeapFrog was formed in September 2008 with the target of providing 25 million lower-income people with financial tools within a decade. Its portfolio – which has included healthcare assets since 2016 – currently reaches 140 million people and has grown revenue by an average of 40 percent annually, the firm said. The council is intended to help the firm achieve its new goal of reaching one billion emerging consumers by 2030.

Axa was a limited partner in LeapFrog’s second flagship vehicle, the $400 million 2013-vintage Financial Inclusion Fund II, according to PEI data. The firm is targeting $600 million for the 2018-vintage Emerging Consumer Fund III.

LeapFrog’s portfolio includes Nigerian pension fund administrator ARM Pensions, east African medical equipment distributor Pyramid Group and Indian medical products company Ascent Meditech, according to its website. The firm won a 2018 PEI OpEx Award for its ownership and exit of Mumbai-headquartered Mahindra Insurance Brokers in October.

The latest move follows the International Finance Corporation and World Bank Group’s release earlier this month of nine principles to set a basic market standard for impact investing and guide capital deployment by institutional investors. The impact investment market stands at $228 billion today – a five-fold increase from the 2016 launch of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

KKR is among the latest to enter the space after registering its debut impact fund in Luxembourg earlier this year. The firm joins the likes of Bain, TPG and Goldman Sachs in targeting social and environmental impact with a dedicated fund.

Demand for impact funds is being driven in part by the gradual maturation of ultra-high-net-worth millennials, who are beginning to take a more active role in the management of their family assets, according to the UBS/Campden Wealth Global Family Office Report 2017. Around 28 percent of family offices are engaged in impact investing, with 40 percent expecting to increase their allocations to the sector, the report noted.

PEI is holding its Global Impact Investing Network Investor Forum 2018 on 30-31 October at the Marriott Rive Gauche Hotel in Paris.