What's so attractive about the food industry right now?
I suppose the philosophical answer is that food will always be food, there will always be demand for it. So in that sense, the sector is not cyclical. I do see an opportunity toconsolidate in a fragmented food market in continental Europe. We are interested in retail and distribution generally. I would not say that there is any one particular area of food that grabs our attention. It's opportunity by opportunity.
Prior to setting up your current venture, you worked for a large investment bank. What are the cultural differences between ACP Capital and Nomura?
ACP Capital tends to be more entrepreneurial in all respects. This is not a criticism of Nomura, but reflects the limitations of how an institution can operate. Regardless of how good an idea is, you have to go through a lengthy approval process and by the time you discuss it, you run the risk of missing out on an opportunity. There are also fewer politics at ACP than in a large institution. As a result, it is very difficult for a larger institution to be entrepreneurial.
What will you new vehicle, ACP Strategic Equity, focus on?
We are launching ACP Strategic Equity next year. In regards to the timing, it's not a case of this year versus next year. This vehicle is a key part of our integrated finance vision, which is geared towards the SME sector.
IFR Capital is an example of this. The remit of the vehicle is to take on the whole minority investment in companies where we think there is an opportunity for growth and consolidation. It's linked to our integrated finance capabilities. We will be looking at all sectors, nothing different from the ACP Capital remit, from infrastructure to real estate. We have a background across all sectors and go from all forms of asset backed to non-asset backed to private equity to debt. I like a think I'm an A-Z of all sectors.
Do you have your eye on any potential investments for the new project?
I'm sure we do.
What do ACP Capital's recent appointments bring to the table?
Eric Youngblood, the chief financial officer of ACP Capital, brings significant experience in the asset backed arena, in all its forms from RMBS, CMBS, consumer loans, etc Nikolaj Larsen, the head of strategic investments, has a private equity and M&A skill set. He also has a background in infrastructure and oil and gas. What I seek in my senior people is diversification with complementary skill sets. We hired Jeff Bennett, in September. Jeff was a senior member of Morgan Stanley's finance business in Europe, and as such, his experience in debt structuring and under-writing will enable us to grow our debt finance capabilities.
How do you feel about rumblings that the Financial Services Authority might take more of an interest in private equity?
I can understand why they want to do it but I have no concerns. If it's appropriate it must be for a reason. I think the Financial Services Authority is there to do a job to and, to an extent; it's for them to determine.