AV Group raises first in series of funds worth up to $1.5bn – exclusive

The firm's first two funds have almost raised a combined $250m from family offices and will invest in Norwegian ag and energy companies before exporting them to South-East Asia.

Growth equity investor AV Group has completed fundraising on its $50 million Singapore based Elite InNorvate Fund, commitments for which primarily came from six family offices.

AV Group is also raising a $200 million Global Innovation Fund that the firm expects to close by June, founder and CEO Karl Andersen told Agri Investor.

The two funds are the first in a line of a family of funds expected to reach a combined target of $1.5 billion.

AV Group was launched in the summer of 2019 and has a focus on investing in young (three to five-years-old) Norwegian technology companies that have proven applications in food, clean technology, ocean space and energy, and upscaling and exporting them to South-East Asia.

The firm is seeking to ride the wave of Norway’s pivot towards exporting technology following the oil price plunge that occurred between 2014-2016, said Andersen.

“The Nordics really excel in the areas of clean tech, underwater infrastructure, food related issues in terms of fisheries and aquafarming – things that Asia and China need,” he said.

“Our mission is to take the Nordic innovation that’s there, commercialize it, expand it and grow it.”

The $50m Singapore fund has evolved to focus more on construction technology said Andersen, while the $200m Innovation Fund is geared towards aquaponics, ocean space, energy efficiency and clean energy.

Investments made by both funds will attract matched capital investments from the Norwegian government, which has a policy of supporting the country’s strategic growth areas of clean technology, smart city/society technology and ocean space.

Andersen said the wider family of funds AV Group will raise includes a $300 million renewables fund, a long/short public equity fund with a size of between $200-$300 million, a $500 million insurance-linked securities fund, and an exchange-traded funds platform of an as yet unconfirmed size.

The firm is pursuing this range of funds because “not all investors are going to want to be locked up for four to seven years,” said ESG and impact partner Peter Fusaro. “Some are going to want a liquid strategy, so we’ll have a long/short.”

AV Group’s investment strategy, Andersen said, will also seek to exploit the lack of financial products in the market that connect the “venture and growth equity worlds to the capital that needs to be allocated to it.”

He added: “There are funds in solar or wind utility scale for example, but when it comes to industrial recycling, waste to energy systems or microgrids, there’s less of an availability of offerings. Even in the insurance market, reinsurers Swiss Re and Munich have had a lack of capable underwriters for the new types of technologies that they’d like to get into and underwrite.”

Like the Singapore fund, the $200 million Global Innovation Fund has also sourced the majority of its commitments from family offices, added Fusaro.

“In our world, family offices are the most proactive on sustainability. To be blunt, we’re not institutional yet, maybe in a couple of years we’ll be institutional,” he said.

“Family offices tend to be leaders in sustainable finance. They’re willing to take on risk and new ideas. The wealth managers seem to understand that.”