Business

Profile: Schütz Family Office – inflection points, asset management, and portfolio construction during a pandemic

Alex Schütz knows a few things about finance. Schütz Family Office, his investment office, recently acquired a bank. He also sits on the supervisory board of Germany’s biggest bank, Deutsche. Vienna-based Schütz also knows how to build businesses, having co-founded one of Austria’s most successful asset managers. 

Hardly surprising then that Schütz is creating one of the most interesting single-family offices in Europe. And he’s looking to partner with other family offices in his pursuit for the best deals.  

“Due to my background the sector focus of my family office lies on financial services and fintech, but I am also strongly interested in other sectors like life science/healthcare and internet/technology among others,” says Schütz.

Schütz made his money by setting up C-Quadrat Investment, a Vienna-based asset management holding group he founded together with Thomas Riess in 1991. C-Quadrat, with subsidiaries around the world, pioneered sustainable investments in Austria. Today, it has around €7 billion of assets under management. 

Whereas C-Quadrat mainly specializes in public markets, the family office Schütz set up a few years ago concentrates on private equity, venture capital, and real estate. VC investments tend to be at an early stage, says Schütz. One nice exit for the family office in the VC sector this year was the sale of HSO Healthcare, which specializes in probiotics for women, to a big Danish healthcare group.

Alex Schütz – “There is an old saying: ‘Don’t let a good crisis go to waste’.”

Another portfolio company, Austrian cybersecurity group Cyan, has achieved strong growth this year, says Schütz. Other portfolio companies include fintech business JDC Group, laser communications group Mynaric, and private jet company Egulf. In September, the family office acquired Luxembourg-based private bank Freie Internationale Sparkasse, which specialized in wealth management. 

Real estate is also an important focus, and the family office has concentrated on a series of high-end residential, retail, and office developments mostly in Austria, but also across Europe.  “Recently, we have made selective and well-considered investments with property acquisitions in prime locations in Austria, Italy and the French Riviera,” says Schütz. 

But Schütz admits things haven’t been straightforward this year. “I would be lying if I said that our portfolio had not been affected by the pandemic.” 

And he is under no illusion about the effects of the global Covid-19 pandemic on the world economy and investing. “I believe that the damage to the global economy will last well beyond 2021, and there are risks that still need monitoring. This year will be a defining moment in our lives and an inflection point when it comes to investing.”  

But Schütz, like many investment specialists and heads of family offices, also sees the crisis brought about by the pandemic, as a big investment opportunity. “There is an old saying: ‘Don’t let a good crisis go to waste’.” Perhaps that’s why Schütz, through Swiss-based investment group Limestone Capital, is buying into a portfolio of boutique hotel developments across Europe. Schütz is a general partner at Limestone.

“I am confident the investments made by Limestone Capital and those that will follow will offer attractive equity returns post-Covid,” he says. Schütz is in good company at Limestone. Another partner is Christian Angermayer, one of Europe’s most successful venture investors, who, through his family office Apeiron Investment Group, has backed a series of biotech, real estate, fintech, and cryptocurrency businesses that have come up trumps.  

Although Schütz’s family office takes a global view when it comes to investing, opportunities closer to home are a big focus. 

“Small and mid-sized businesses dominate the corporate landscape in Austria. Consequently, Austrian these businesses offer big opportunities for domestic venture capital and buy-out financing,” Schütz says. 

“When it comes to Eastern Europe, I am convinced the region will develop strongly in the future. The combination of steeply rising GDP per capita combined with low inflation rates offers a very attractive environment for investors.” 

Schütz’s family office is also looking to co-invest with other like-minded investors. “We consider co-investments as an attractive alternative to the standard investment fund structures,” he says. 

“As such we will invest alongside a private-equity fund (not in the fund itself), or we do club deals with other family offices and investors. With this approach, the family office can allocate capital while reducing fees as well as exercising greater control over our investments.” 

The family office is also hosting a wealth summit in Vienna next year to meet like-minded investors interested in the central and Eastern Europe investment opportunities.  “With the summit, we aim to create a platform that allows everyone to meet new people that share the same passion for the investment business.”

 

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