ABP boosts microfinance commitment with new money

Fund adds to 2005 investment with Geneva-based BlueOrchard.

ABP, the €250bn ($315bn) giant Dutch pension fund for public sector workers, has extended its commitment to microfinance investing by allocating an extra $75m (€50m) to Swiss asset manager BlueOrchard. ABP invested with BlueOrchard in its first private equity microfinance fund in 2005, committing $40m at the time.
Jan van Roekel, portfolio manager at ABP, said the investment with BlueOrchard had been made because of the company’s “rare experience and accumulated knowledge” in microfinance.
BlueOrchard acquires minority stakes in microfinance companies worldwide and plays an active governance role by sharing international experience, information, networks and knowledge. Jean-Philippe de Schrevel, chief executive officer of BlueOrchard Investments, the private equity advisory arm of the BlueOrchard group, said: “We are very proud to be working alongside ABP to fight poverty in the world through microfinance, agrassroots sustainable market-based approach for delivery of financial services to the working poor.”
ABP is a keen investor in microfinance, which it sees as a non-correlated risk diversifier for its investment portfolio. It has one of the biggest institutional commitments to the asset class in the world.
Earlier this year, ABP and its US peer TIAACREF, the higher education and medical workers fund, were named amongst investors in a $125m fund close by Catalyst Microfinance Investors (CMI). The fund is believed to be the largest collective equity capital commitment to microfinance.

ABP’s chief investment officer, Paul Spijkers, has also said that microfinance investment has the potential to provide the fund with a combination of strong growth and attractive returns in high growth economies.