Side Letter: Hard/Soft ESG, Abraaj alumni, Salu, Goldman slacks

Data dominated Day 2 of the Responsible Investment Forum in NYC, while a new player is making waves in insurance. Here’s today's brief, for our valued subscribers only.

Just happened

ESG: Hard numbers please, not soft anecdotes

Data was the name of the game on day two of the Responsible Investment Forum New York as delegates grappled with how best to aggregate, integrate and use meaningful data related to ESG. Not only can metrics differ across geographies, sectors and companies but a lot of the information coming in is still anecdotal rather than hard numbers. Oh, and the definition of ESG keeps expanding – add cybersecurity to the list.

Likewise, impact investing has as many definitions as investors interested in pursuing it (a lot, in other words). While some GPs seek the same returns from their impact funds as from their mainstream private equity vehicles, others are comfortable with lower returns.

Salut, Salu!

Salu Capital burst into our consciousness this week with a curious deal. The New York-based firm, which bills itself as a special sits and PE firm “with particular emphasis on building an insurance-driven investment platform” per its website, acquired all the stakes in Augur Financial Opportunities II, a 2010-vintage, €212 million European mid-market fund, through a secondaries deal, and then appears to have sold down portions of the two remaining fund assets to strategic partners. One, a fund admin business, is now part-owned by Apex Group and the other, a German life insurer, went to inLife Holding. Secondaries Investor has more details.

Abraaj: where are they now?

We’ve looked at which of Abraaj’s senior personnel have left and who remains behind. The firm’s regional funds are currently embroiled in lengthy sales processes, with Actis, TPG, Brookfield Asset Management, Franklin Templeton and Actera linked to different parts of the moribund business. Some of the firm’s partners have already moved on. Will those still at the firm be taken across with their respective funds?


Clean Ares. Ares Management is one firm looking to take advantage of efforts to tackle climate change, according to Bloomberg. The firm is starting a fund – called Ares Climate Infrastructure Partners – to make investments aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting better use of natural resources.

And on that point, the biggest event in the infrastructure calendar, the Infrastructure Investor Global Summit 2019, kicks off in Berlin in 10 days, with 2,000 delegates expected. Join it here.

Get real on diversity. If your firm is not doing a great job on diversity, this advice from panelists at the Responsible Investment Forum might help. One CCO highlighted the use of blind resumes and other basic tactics to encourage diversity and objectivity during the hiring process, while another urged delegates to “push back” on recruiters who claim diverse hires can’t be found.

Goldman slacks. Goldman Sachs has become the latest Wall Street giant to introduce casual dress. The bank reportedly issued an internal memo on Tuesday announcing a “firm wide flexible dress code” due to “the changing nature of workplaces generally in favour of a more casual environment,” according to Reuters. The memo told employees to dress “in a manner that is consistent” with clients’ expectations, noting: “All of us know what is and is not appropriate for the workplace.” Hawaiian shirts are out then.

Dig deeper

Want more data? There are more than 6,700 institutions in our database, including Ares Management and Goldman Sachs.

He said it

“Your house is at risk. Your retirement accounts are at risk… and your current way of investing against that is probably nothing. But the good news is, there are ways to invest.”

Jay Koh, co-founder and managing director at The Lightsmith Group, tells delegates at the PEI Responsible Investment Forum New York that all assets can and will be affected by climate change.

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Today’s letter was prepared by Toby MitchenallPreeti SinghRod JamesAlex Lynn and Isobel Markham