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European family investment dynasty appoints new heavyweight chief executive

Bregal Investments, the private equity empire backed by the Brenninkmeijer family, has appointed a new chief executive. 

Alain Carrier’s appointment illustrates how several of Europe’s family offices have become so large they need to tap institutional expertise to go to the next level. 

As part of the deal, principals need to resist interfering with decisions made by their professionals. It’s a tricky balancing act, but the Brenninkmeijers seem to have achieved it.

Carrier, ex-Goldman Sachs, previously ran Canada Pension Plan Investment’s international division after becoming European managing director in 2008. 

One analyst said Carrier was well qualified for the job, experienced in handling teams and business relationships: “I’ve heard good things about him.” 

Carrier is due to start his new job at Bregal on 1 January after joining in November to finalise a transition of power.

Bregal is currently run by co-chief executives Steve Black and Quentin Van Doosselaere who retire at the end of the year. Bregal manages assets totalling $14 billion, split between six strategies.

One of them, Bregal Unternehmerkapital, is renowned for forging deals with other family offices in Europe.  It raised a $2.2 billion fund earlier this year.

Bregal is part of Cofra Holdings, owned by the Brenninkmeijers, best known for their fashion chain C&A, founded in 1841.  

C&A is chaired by veteran UK retailer Allan Leighton who has just hired Diane de Saint Victor, ex-ABB, as non-executive director. She will replace Edward Brenninkmeijer on the board although the family retains a presence.

Cofra is headquartered in Zug, Switzerland and employs 74,000 staff. Its other businesses include real estate (Redevco) and clean energy (Sunrock).

Each operating business is managed independently although the Brenninkmeijers do expect them to be engaged and a “force for good.” 

On 1 November, Bregal committed to bringing carbon emissions down to net zero by 2050 through an initiative called Net Zero Managers. 

Al Gore and David Blood support the idea. They are launching a pro-climate fund called Just Climate, following the success of Generation Investment Management.

The climate fight is expected to lead to the creation of a number of blended funds where governments and the private sector join forces. 

Alain Carrier is in a good position to get involved following his involvement in CPP Investment, a $420 billion pension scheme manager, renowned for its proactive approach to infrastructure and renewables. 

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