Charlotte, Zürcher Kantonalbank recently launched a private equity fund for qualified investors that specialises in investments in decarbonisation solutions. Why this focus on decarbonisation?
Undoubtedly the global economy needs to be decarbonised as quickly as possible. We are therefore at the beginning of a global sustainability revolution. This means that the current emissions of around 40 gigatonnes of CO2 per year must be reduced to net zero by 2050. This requires an estimated 2,500 billion dollars of annual investment, which corresponds to around 2 to 4 percent of global gross domestic product. The potential market is thus huge, providing numerous attractive investment opportunities. Companies developing technologies and services for decarbonisation solutions offer potentially high returns as they enjoy a sustainable and long-term competitive advantage as well as growing demand. With our new investment vehicle, the Swisscanto Private Equity Carbon Solutions Fund, we are therefore offering qualified investors simple, cost-optimised and diversified access to precisely these opportunities in the private equity sector.
Okay, but to what extent does this require private equity?
Private equity is key to global decarbonisation. Innovative companies in the field of decarbonisation need capital to scale up efficient and new technologies, especially in growth phases. However, capital is scarce in these phases. Private equity investors step in to fill this gap. They finance the scaling of the business model, thereby creating the basis for growth. In addition, private equity investors make their expertise and network available.
They expect an attractive return. What can generally be expected?
Measured by the internal rate of return, between 12 and 14 percent net per year. This is a return expectation commensurate with the risk.
To what extent are these returns realistic, given rising interest rates and the threat of a recession?
Generally speaking, private equity is more resilient to rising interest rates than exchange-traded equity capital, as there is less financing with borrowed capital, especially in growth phases. As a result, the companies in which we invest are less dependent on borrowed capital. Moreover, fund managers have the opportunity to cushion negative inflation effects more quickly by actively managing their portfolio companies or they can align exit timing with more favourable market conditions.
The fact remains that the impending recession is pushing valuations down.
Yes, but this has the advantage that we can acquire participations more cheaply than before. As already mentioned earlier, it is also possible to adjust the exit timing, as we remain invested for years. Although IPO activities have currently dropped, the environment should clearly brighten again by the time of an exit, i.e. after an expected holding period of five to seven years.
Most importantly, however, with our focus on decarbonisation, we are seizing sustainable investment opportunities that not only enjoy strong financial and legal support from regulators, but also benefit from increasing demand from society. The constant need to become fossil-free creates momentum for new growth opportunities. This way, thematic investing in private equity can set itself apart from the downward trend. I am therefore convinced that innovative companies that offer greenhouse gas-reducing technologies and services and have scalable business models in particular will receive sufficient capital, will be characterised by strong growth in consumer demand and will thus be able to offer opportunities for excess returns.