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SWFI First Read, March 10, 2019

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Antares Capital Co-CEO John Martin Reveals Retirement Date

David Brackett will become the sole CEO of Antares Capital, after co-CEO John Martin retires at the end of April 2019. John Martin and David Brackett have been co-CEOs of Antares Capital since 2015 – both were founding partners of the company.

Temasek and Premji Approached by SREI Group

Kolkata-based SREI Group is in talks to raise as much as Rs 1,000 crore in capital before its initial public offering (IPO). SREI has approached a number of investors including Singapore’s Temasek Holdings and PremjiInvest, the family office of Wipro chairman Azim Premji.

Touchstone Capital Group Holdings Supports Subsea Tunnel Linking Helsinki to Tallinn

Touchstone Capital Group Holdings Limited is financing a train tunnel that connects Helsinki to Tallinn. The proposed subsea tunnel would cut travel time to 20 minutes versus a two-hour ferry ride. FinEst Bay Area Development signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will provide a third of the financing of the €15 billion project via private equity. Touchstone Capital will get a minority stake in the project and provide two-thirds of the debt financing. The Touchstone OBOR Consortium Group is made up of 30 members, which include 15 Chinese state-owned enterprises and 15 companies.

PolyAI Raises $12 Million for Series A Round

London-based PolyAI, a developer of conversational software for customer support centers, raised US$ 12 million in a Series A round. The round was led by Point72 Ventures, with participation from Sands Capital Ventures, Amadeus Capital Partners, Passion Capital, and Entrepreneur First.

More Opportunity Zone Funds Being Launched

Silverstein Properties and Cantor Fitzgerald are seeking to raise US$ 2 billion for an Opportunity Zone fund.

Yale’s Love Affair with Venture Capital Overshadows Other Asset Classes

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Yale’s US$ 29.4 endowment has earned staggering returns of 7.4% per year over the past 10 years, racing past its benchmark and adding US$ 6.5 billion to the fund. In the year ending June 30 2018, Yale earned 12.3%. Yale’s success is due to active management, and an unconventional approach to investing, at least from the perspective of a university endowment. Yale is overweight venture capital and real estate, which has paid off handsomely over the last 10 years. Many properties throughout the country have returned to, or surpassed, their pre bubble-era prices. Yale has also actively participated in leveraged buyouts. Yale is underweight U.S. equities and its fixed income holdings are low, as is cash on hand.

Yale’s annual report notes, “The heavy allocation to nontraditional asset classes stems from their return potential and diversifying power.” Perhaps earning their Princeton Review # 3 ranking in 2018, Yale’s commitment to thinking outside the box is responsible for their recent investment philosophy: “Alternative assets, by their very nature, tend to be less efficiently priced than traditional marketable securities, providing an opportunity to exploit market inefficiencies through active management.” Alternative investments have been gaining steam among major players in the global markets, including US$ 6.5 trillion investment manager Blackrock Inc. Blackrock plans to open a new European alternative asset headquarters in Paris.

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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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