Activist investor Jeff Ubben announced he’s leaving his $16 billion hedge fund ValueAct to start an ESG firm

25 Jun, 2020 02:03
source: Singularity Financial

Singularity Financial Hong Kong June 24, 2020 – Activist investor Jeff Ubben, who launched the $16 billion San Francisco-based hedge fund 20 years ago has left the fund to start a new fund focused on investing based on environmental, social, and governance criteria, or ESG, according to the Financial Times.

Ubben had already stepped down as chief investment officer at the fund in 2017 and as CEO at the beginning of 2020, amid a round of changes in January at the activist hedge fund, and is now leaving altogether to kick off a new environmental and social-impact investment company that he calls Inclusive Capital Partners (“In-Cap”). The new hedge fund will be co-led by investor Lynn Forester de Rothschild, who’s focused on socially responsible capitalism in the past.

Global asset management company Affiliated Managers Group, Inc. (NYSE: AMG) announced on Tuesday that it will be a minority equity partner to this newly founded independent investment firm.

‘Companies, as governed today, with investors asking for more current returns and more buybacks and so forth, aren’t working for society or nature,’ Ubben tells the FT.

ValueAct and Ubben had established a reputation as a hedge that sat on the friendlier end of the spectrum of investor activism. He said that his efforts to invest in so-called impact investing, which is a style of investing focused on generating social and environmental change on top of an investment return.

Ubben told the FT that that style of investing didn’t naturally sit alongside traditional investing, so he decided to branch off and created his own fund.

“In-Cap will seek to demonstrate that high returns should accrue to businesses that responsibly and creatively address environmental and societal problems by using sustainable business models, and we have partnered with stakeholders who we believe are world pioneers in wildlife, conservation, governance, and social equality to help encourage companies to embrace these principles. I am thrilled to announce the formation of Inclusive Capital Partners as the next iteration of my investing career.” said Mr. Ubben.

Inclusive Capital Partners will focus on proving that outsized returns are available to those who can work successfully with management teams and boards and demonstrate the courage to lead on solutions to climate change and social inequity.

In addition to Mr. Ubben, In-Cap founders include George F. Hamel, Jr., co-founder of ValueAct; Lynn Forester de Rothschild, Founder and CEO of the Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism, a not-for-profit organization devoted to advancing economic and social inclusion; and Eva Zlotnicka, a ValueAct Managing Director who worked with Mr. Ubben to launch the Spring Fund.

In-Cap will be headquartered in San Francisco.

Ubben’s move is part of a larger trend of top business and financial leaders saying that the role of a company isn’t just to make profits for shareholders, but to benefit society at large.