Coller ESG head will focus on direct secondaries

Failure to address environmental, social, governance and sustainability issues will be costly for private equity firms, according to Adam Black.

Coller Capital’s newly appointed head of ESG and sustainability said direct secondaries is the area he is looking to tackle first at the secondaries powerhouse.

Adam Black, who joined Coller in March, was speaking at the Guernsey Funds Forum in London on Thursday.

“There’s clearly an opportunity to address ESG across everything that we do, and there are processes in place that do that already,” Black said. “I’m seeking to enhance that, I’m seeking to focus on where we definitely have more leverage in our direct secondary portfolio.”

Black added Coller had previously refrained from certain investments because of ESG concerns.

These issues have spurred secondaries sales, with the New Jersey State Investment Council offloading its stake in a fund that backed a payday lender after advocacy groups objected to the state pension investing in a business that charges high interest rates for loans.

The London-headquartered firm implemented its ESG policy in 2011 and became a signatory to the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) in 2014, according to its website.

Engaging with the portfolio and with the general partners, and checking that GPs identify, understand and managing issues at underlying portfolio companies was key, Black said.

“If you don’t address these issues it will cost you a lot more,” he said.