In the beginning of 2011, Milton Berlinski, Rene Kan and Justus Martens decided to set up a one-hundred million florin local investment fund, so that they could put their extensive international experience as businessmen, investors and financial specialists to good use and invest in Aruban companies with the goal of strengthening the Aruban economy.
In most countries, local companies have access to growth capital via the stock market and/or private equity funds. These financial instruments, which are so important for economic development, have until now been completely missing in Aruba, and for that reason, the creation of a local investment fund is so crucial for the growth of the national economy.
This afternoon, at 3pm, about one year after the idea was hatched, the documentation is being signed for the creation of the Aruba Growth Fund – AGF (www.arubagrowthfund.com). Five leading local institutions, APFA, the WEB and Elmar pension funds, Meta Corporation and the Caribbean Mercantile Bank, have joined as investors in this venture, which will be managed by Berlinski, Kan and Martens, together with two other principals — under the name BKM Management. AIB Bank NV has been involved with AGF from the beginning in the initial fund-raising, and will continue to assist in attracting new investors for the coming two years.
For the next seven years the capital of the Aruba Growth Fund will be invested in the form of shares in Aruban companies; so not in the form of loans. These companies include existing, medium and large enterprises in all sectors of the economy. What these companies have in common is their potential to continue to grow through regional expansion, diversification and investments. These companies must have a good financial track record and a strong management team.
In today’s business environment, it is very difficult for Aruban companies to attract new capital, and practically impossible for the owners of these companies to sell their shares. Capital is not available at the moment and family-owned companies are not able to find solutions for their succession challenges. If interested investors can be found they are usually from foreign countries and thereby less inclined to uphold and safeguard local interests in terms of employment, continuity, and company culture.
The investors are committed to the further development of the local economy, and believe in the potential of Aruban companies. They share this confidence with the investment team and will contribute a crucial service for a more sustainable economic development in the years to come. The Aruba Growth Fund will make sure that, just as in many other countries, an investment instrument exists that allows local investors to be able to participate in the equity growth of local companies.