Nordic bolsters ESG and communication team

The appointments comes as Swedish GPs gear up to formally launch industry guidelines on greater transparency

Scandinavian-focused firm Nordic Capital has expanded its team with two newly created roles focusing on communication and environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.

The firm has hired Karin Lepasoon, a former executive vice president at project development and construction company Skanska, as a director of communications, ESG and human resources. Nordic has also hired Emma Brandt as ESG manager.

“ESG has always been important to us,” a spokesperson told PEI. “These hires just formalise the process.”

The appointments comes as Swedish GPs gear up to formally launch industry guidelines on greater transparency. This month, the Swedish Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (SVCA) will formally publish a Code of Conduct that will evaluate private equity’s role in society.

The Code will assess whether private equity firms are behaving in a way you can expect from a professional owner, Gabriel Urwitz, managing partner at Segulah and chairman of the SVCA, told PEI earlier this month.

A disciplinary board, consisting of “three outstanding people that have no relation to private equity” will evaluate any complaints – which can be made by anyone – that are made against any SVCA members. Whenever there’s a complaint, the board will determine whether a private equity firm has acted as a responsible owner. They can also give GPs warnings, or in extreme cases recommend that the firm should be expelled from the SVCA, a final decision of which would be decided by the board of SVCA. “We can’t put people in jail and we cannot give out fines, but we can ‘name and shame’ them,” Urwitz said.

While minutiae of the Code of Conduct haven’t been made public yet, the Code will focus a lot on transparency. “When the media knocks at your door, the Code will say that GPs and/or investment advisors have to deal with that. You can’t say: no comment. Private equity has become such an important part of the Swedish economy and therefore the general public has the right to know more about us – as company owners, especially when it comes to companies in the well-fare sector,” Urwitz said.

The code was created following a number of incidents involving private investments in Sweden which attracted negative press coverage, such as KKR’s and Triton’s investment in elderly care home group Carema. In November 2011, the firms came under fire after Carema was accused of neglecting patients and criticised for its tax and remuneration practices – with left-wing Swedish politicians subsequently calling for a ban on private investments in welfare sectors.

Despite the fact that, as KKR told PEI in 2013, the firms had “never taken one cent out of the company” and had reinvested all revenues, the battle of public perception was an uphill one; there’s currently an inquiry into whether such investments should be prohibited, creating uncertainty for GPs with care-related portfolio companies until the findings are published in 2016.