Belgium’s pension fund for the metal industry is backing an impact investment fund that aims to invest in unlisted Belgian companies with a view to generating sustainable employment, and ideally achieve a return in the process.
The investment vehicle, Invest for Jobs, was created by the social partners in the metal and technology industry in Belgium, meaning it is a joint employer/labour initiative.
A private company, it has €100m in capital, €40m of which comes from the pension fund for the metal industry (Pensioenfonds Metaal OFP) and the remainder from the metal industry’s subsistence protection fund (FBZMN or, by its French acronym, FSEFM).
The focus will now be on deploying the €100m of capital it has raised, although the company may carry out another capital-raising round next year or after that, depending on investment opportunities, according to Eric Jonkers, one of the directors.
The metal industry pension fund has some €1bn in assets under management.
Freddy Willockx, president of the pension fund board (and former pensions minister), told IPE the pension fund decided to invest in Invest for Jobs because it felt it could contribute more directly to job creation.
He noted that the investment was approved by FSMA, the pension fund’s regulator.
According to a statement from Invest for Jobs, it is the only investment fund in Belgium to be run by the social partners of an industry.
The fund aims to provide long-term financing of private Belgian companies that are capable of creating sustainable employment.
The fund’s investment horizon is at least five years but goes out to 30 years.
The minimum investment is €1m, while management fees are a maximum of 1% per annum.
The fund can provide financing to companies in the form of equity, bonds or mezzanine debt.
It aims to offer “a reasonable financial return for elevated social gain”, according to the statement.
Marc Bolland, a director alongside Jonkers, told IPE it was not possible to give a precise figure for the targeted return, even though internally the fund has developed a target asset allocation.
“Contrary to other funds, we are not looking to maximise financial profit,” he said. “Our policy is, above all, to have an impact, which is to support job creation. Financial return is, therefore, an integral part but not the priority.”
He said the investment fund was targeting a stable long-term return “in the spirit” of the regulation on European long-term investment funds (ELTIFs).
The social partners are heavily involved in the investment fund.
They are represented equally on a non-executive board, alongside independent administrators/trustees.
Nico Cué, secretary general of the trade union federation for the metal industry, CMB, is president of the non-executive board.
Stephan Vanhaverbeke, director of social affairs at Agoria, the employers federation for the Belgian technology industry, is vice-president of the board.
The presidency will rotate between the employer and employee representatives, who also appoint the members of the investment committee.
Jonkers and Bolland are responsible for the day-to-day management of the fund, whose manager is called “General Partner to Investor for Jobs”, a private company.
The vehicle is a regulated alternative investment fund, taking the form of a regulated alternative investment fund under the AIFM Directive.
It is legally incorporated as a “société commandite par actions”, a limited stock partnership; any investor wanting to invest in the fund becomes a shareholder, with voting rights.