BEX Capital founder Benjamin Revillon passes away – updated

Revillon was noted for his vision, entrepreneurialism and for pioneering small-sized fund of funds secondaries.

BEX Capital‘s founder and chief investment officer – a pioneer of the trading of second-hand stakes in fund of funds and secondaries funds – has passed away.

Benjamin Revillon died on Sunday evening after struggling with illness for the past few years, according to a LinkedIn post by the firm. He was 47.

“I am immensely proud of the business we have built, and of the team of talented individuals BEX has managed to attract,” Revillon wrote in an unsent note to friends in the market, according to the LinkedIn post. “They have been instrumental in generating the excellent results BEX Capital has realised for its investors. It is therefore with sadness that I now have decided, in the long-term interest of the business and its investors, to hand over the reigns of the company to the team, in the full confidence that BEX Capital will continue to perform for its investors.”

Revillon founded BEX in 2010 to initially acquire small stakes in high-quality and well-known funds. He soon discovered the barriers to entry were a little too low and that this part of the market was “very crowded”, he told Secondaries Investor in a 2018 interview at the firm’s then-Paris headquarters.

The former AlpInvest Partners and Deutsche Bank executive found a solution: pivot to buying stakes in secondaries funds and funds of funds themselves, in a strategy he referred to as going back to the “original rulebook” of secondaries.

Since its launch, BEX has transformed from a deal-by-deal model to raising four flagship blind pool funds, according to Secondaries Investor data. The most recent of these is its $765 million BEX Fund IV, which closed in just three months above its $600 million target.

In an interview with Secondaries Investor last year on the back of the firm’s Fund IV raise, Revillon said BEX could have raised even more than the amount it settled on.

“We asked ourselves, do we go for a quick fundraise without a roadshow, or do we go for a very big number, which might take up to two years and a lot of energy? We decided to raise a pure blind pool fund to leave time for where we add the most value, which is investing,” he said.

The firm appeared in SI 50 ranking for the first time last year, demonstrating that it is possible to make a mark investing in a niche of a niche. It raised $1.3 billion in the preceding five-year period, placing it 43rd on the ranking.

BEX’s third blind pool fund, which closed in 2019, was the firm’s first to offer ‘X shares’, which are exempt from management fees and carried interest, for non-governmental organisations and major non-profit foundations. To qualify for the carry and fee-free offer, the non-profits needed to adhere to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The move would allow such organisations to reinvest their gross return towards good causes.

The firm has five other partners, including managing partner Erwin Roex, a former Coller Capital partner, according to BEX’s website. Roex will assume leadership of the firm with the full support of the senior team, according to a statement from BEX.

“We are devastated by the loss of our friend and partner at such a young age, and our hearts are with Benjamin’s family,” Roex said in the statement. “In just over a decade, he built a firm with $1.3 billion in assets and a strong sense of purpose, including the innovation of ‘X’ shares enabling NGOs to benefit from our investments. We ask you to join us in mourning the passing of this exceptional person.”

Secondaries market participants who knew Revillon expressed shock and sadness at his passing on LinkedIn.

“I will remember Benjamin as an infatigable entrepreneur who was instrumental in developing a neglected part of the secondary market,” wrote Bernhard Engelien, head of Greenhill‘s European secondaries capital advisory.

Sunaina Sinha, global head of private capital advisory at Raymond James described Revillon as a “stalwart” of the secondaries market and an “entrepreneur with a warm and kind-hearted soul”.

François Aguerre, co-head of investment at Coller Capital, commended Revillon on his vision.

“Not only were you an early mover into secondaries, you were a builder within this market, and your contribution will be remembered,” Aguerre wrote.

Kutty Dutta, head of secondaries & co-investments at HSBC Alternative Investments, simply wrote: “So saddened by this. An innovator, an industry colleague and a classmate. Rest in peace Ben.”

Revillon is survived by his wife Julie and children Timothée and Céleste.

– This report has been updated to include details from a statement from the firm and comments from Erwin Roex.