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From All Sides, Sovereign Funds Hold Tight

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Markets jittered last week, but it did not stop sovereign funds from embracing markets in various asset classes. Wealth funds like the New Mexico State Investment Council have committed capital to real estate funds in these markets. Meanwhile, Australia’s Future Fund has boosted its cash reserves from 11.2% of assets from June 2014 to 19.5% of assets June 2015 (A$ 22.89 billion on the table.) On September 1, 2015, the New York Stock Exchange invoked Rule 48, a means to smooth the opening of the market due to potential volatile circumstances. [ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

eFront Finds a Home at BlackRock

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BlackRock Inc. entered into an exclusive agreement to acquire eFront, a French software provider of risk management products for the alternative investments industry. Asset management firms are worried about margins and have increasingly acquired service provider firms to buffer revenues. BlackRock sells the Aladdin (Asset, Liability, Debt and Derivative Investment Network) platform, which is one of the largest portfolio operating systems in the investor community. BlackRock’s offer is to pay US$ 1.3 billion in cash for 100% of the equity of eFront. The seller of eFront is private equity firm Bridgepoint.

Bridgepoint acquired eFront in January 2015 in a transaction totalling approximately €300 million. In 2006 eFront listed on the Alternext Paris market of NYSE Euronext (ALEFT) and was taken private in 2011 by Francisco Partners. eFront was founded in 1999 by Olivier Dellenbach.

According to the press release, “The combination of eFront with Aladdin, BlackRock’s investment operating platform used by more than 225 institutions around the world, will set a new standard in investment and risk management technology.”

BlackRock is funding the eFront acquisition through a combination of existing corporate liquidity and debt.

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CDPQ Supports Domestic AI Fund

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Institutional investor Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), which works primarily on behalf of pension funds and insurance plans, is opening a new fund dedicated to Québec businesses that specialize in AI, or artificial intelligence. Available funds are slated at US$ 250 million for the enterprise. The commercialization of AI seems to be a natural fit for CDPQ, “Since Montréal is emerging as a global beacon of excellence in artificial intelligence, we need to enhance our offering and ramp up the financial and development support we provide AI businesses through the various stages of their growth,” according to Executive Vice President of Quebec and Global Strategy, Charles Émond. Émond aspires to see AI spread throughout “all sectors of our economy.” The AI fund will be run by CDPQ’s Venture Capital and Technology team. They will look for companies that are already doing well in the sector.

Another program is targeting early stage organizations. Mila Quebec AI Institute, a research and development organization founded by three universities, is building a new complex to help facilitate CDPQ’s goals. The new complex will house early-stage AI companies. CDPQ is especially interested in companies that can accelerate their growth and enter markets quickly, providing speedy returns. There is a social component, whereby companies will be required to contribute to Mila. Michael Sabia, President and Chief Executive Officer of CDPQ, noted, “With this partnership, la Caisse is pursuing its commitment to helping Québec businesses in this new economy thrive and expand.”

Keywords: Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec

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RDIF and Aggreko Reveal Strategic Partnership on Microgrids

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The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and Glasgow-based Aggreko plc, a listed company that provides power, heating and cooling, signed a deal to cooperate on the development of microgrids. The parties plan to invest in the construction of facilities that will provide uninterrupted power supply and temperature control to industrial enterprises and utilities in the Russian regions. Aggreko operates one of its 6 global hubs in Tyumen, Western Siberia, through an entity called Aggreko Evraziya, OOO. In 2017, Aggreko plc acquired Younicos, a company specialized in the development of modular batteries and Microgrids control solutions.

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