3 questions to smart minds

Investing in a sustainable society

For this 3 questions to Maroje Guertl

VERDANE in Berlin
Photo: Maroje Guertl
2. June 2021

Resource effi­ci­ency and also the issue of sustaina­bi­lity is about doing more with less. Today, it is not only in indus­try but also among consu­mers to reduce the consump­tion of waste, energy and water as much as possi­ble. About how to make proces­ses more effi­ci­ent and save valuable resour­ces. This is one of the topics VERDANE, a Scan­di­na­vian private equity company, has dedi­ca­ted itself to.

For this 3 ques­ti­ons to Maroje Guertl, Prin­ci­pal of VERDANE in Berlin

1. What do you find parti­cu­larly attrac­tive as a Scan­di­na­vian inves­tor in Germany? And how is the VERDANE team made up?

On the one hand, Germany is a very rele­vant market as the largest economy in Europe, and on the other hand, many inte­res­t­ing compa­nies are loca­ted here in Verdane’s core sectors, namely Digi­tal Consu­mer, Soft­ware and Sustainable Society. In contrast to many other inves­tors, we have deli­bera­tely sett­led in Berlin because our invest­ments often have a digi­tal aspect and Berlin is one of the most inte­res­t­ing loca­ti­ons in Europe for this in our eyes. Our stated goal as a growth inves­tor is to be the first port of call for fast-growing, tech­no­logy-based compa­nies in Nort­hern Europe.

Like our port­fo­lio compa­nies, we are also growing rapidly. We curr­ently employ a total of over 70 people, 14 of whom work in our Berlin office. More than half of our part­ners have foun­ded compa­nies them­sel­ves, and a large propor­tion of our invest­ment profes­sio­nals have previously held opera­tio­nal posi­ti­ons. We ther­e­fore have very diffe­rent back­grounds, expe­ri­en­ces and perspec­ti­ves. What sets us apart is our in-house team of around 20 experts from a wide range of opera­tio­nal areas, such as marke­ting, talent manage­ment, opera­ti­ons, sustaina­bi­lity, finance and tech­no­logy, who support our port­fo­lio companies.

2. VERDANE has a strong sustaina­bi­lity focus. What do you focus on and where do you get your expertise?

We made our first sustainable invest­ment in 2006. To date, the number of our invest­ments in busi­ness models that promote the idea of a sustainable society adds up to around 25. Indeed, sustaina­bi­lity has become one of the key aspects of our invest­ment approach, and we are proud of what many of our port­fo­lio compa­nies are alre­ady doing to align their actions with inter­na­tio­nal sustaina­bi­lity goals, the United Nati­ons Sustainable Deve­lo­p­ment Goals. We consciously and actively work with the respec­tive manage­ment teams to support them on this jour­ney. For each port­fo­lio company, we aim to imple­ment at least one concrete impro­ve­ment towards a more sustainable busi­ness. In doing so, we look at sustaina­bi­lity from a value-crea­ting perspec­tive, with the aim of imple­men­ting it as closely as possi­ble to the compa­nies’ core business.

We employ a Sustaina­bi­lity Lead and a Sustaina­bi­lity Busi­ness Deve­lo­per who deal exclu­si­vely with the imple­men­ta­tion of sustaina­bi­lity issues in our port­fo­lio companies.

In April, we welco­med Erik Osmund­sen as a new part­ner. Previously, he served for nine years as Group CEO of Norsk Gjen­vin­ning, a Scan­di­na­vian company, leader in waste manage­ment and recy­cling. He has deve­lo­ped the company into Norway’s eleventh-largest and, in parti­cu­lar, driven its expan­sion in Scan­di­na­via. We believe that sustaina­bi­lity will change all asset clas­ses — like digi­ta­liza­tion — and evolve from an invest­ment niche to some­thing that touches all sectors of the economy.

3. What issues are you focu­sing on in this sector? Espe­ci­ally in Germany?

We actively use our plat­form to estab­lish world-class sustainable busi­ness models. We focus on three key areas of sustaina­bi­lity: the energy tran­si­tion, sustainable consump­tion and resi­li­ent communities.

for exam­ple, we have inves­ted in the leading company for opti­mi­zing the perfor­mance of wind turbi­nes, which is an extre­mely important topic in the course of the energy tran­si­tion. Because you asked expli­citly about Germany, I would like to mention 
who alre­ady achieve a turno­ver of over 300 million euros with the buying and selling of used books and clot­hing and thus contri­bute signi­fi­cantly to a more sustainable consump­tion. In July 2020, momox’s annual CO2 savings effect was esti­ma­ted at 65,000 tons, the equi­va­lent of more than 10,000 Europeans.

At the end of last year, we also acqui­red a stake in 
and thus with another German company in the circu­lar economy. The company recon­di­ti­ons used consu­mer elec­tro­nics and sells them online. Each new smart­phone gene­ra­tes an esti­ma­ted 80 kilo­grams of waste. So it’s high time we start thin­king about deve­lo­ping a circu­lar approach to ever­y­day consu­mer elec­tro­nics. The success of asgoo­das­new shows that there is a great demand for such solu­ti­ons. And to give you an exam­ple of the third field in which we support parti­cu­lar social deve­lo­p­ments, let me say two senten­ces about 
say. Lingit is a Norwe­gian soft­ware company foun­ded 20 years ago by scien­tists to support people with dysle­xia. In the time we have been with the company, the number of licen­ses distri­bu­ted annu­ally has increased six-fold. Lingit has an outstan­ding product that can help a large number of people with a reading and writing disa­bi­lity. — We are convin­ced that we will make further exci­ting and value-enhan­cing invest­ments in the DACH region this year and conti­nue our success story as a leading inves­tor in tech­no­logy-based busi­ness models in Nort­hern Europe.

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