• BlackPeak Capital announced the final closing at €126 million of the Southeast Europe Growth Equity Fund. This surpasses the original target of €120 million.
• With the new capital, the team is seeking to make growth equity investments of €5-15 million in dynamic SMEs across Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Croatia, and Serbia.
• The Luxembourg-based Fund has the backing of the European Investment Fund, the EBRD, Erste Asset Management, the IFC, as well as leading regional pension funds.
The renewed support from institutional investors is a sign of trust in the company, as well as a recognition of the potential for growth equity in Southeast Europe, commented Rossen Ivanov and Ivailo Gospodinov, managing partners at BlackPeak Capital.
The potential of Southeast Europe
BlackPeak Capital has been an early recognizer of the potential of companies in Southeast Europe to compete with global ones in terms of quality of products and services. They are also one of the first private equity funds to focus on channeling significant investments of pension funds and asset management companies in the region.
“Historically, SEE has had less funding for VC/growth equity, which has also taught many entrepreneurs to establish profitable business models from day one. Importantly, the region has a new-found energy for development and many of the younger entrepreneurs are truly citizens of the world who have the confidence to build global businesses,” Rossen Ivanov tells The Recursive.
It is this scarcity of resources, as well as the missing advantage of large home markets, that has built one of the key differentiators of entrepreneurs in Southeast Europe – they can do more with less, Rossen thinks. “This forces them not only to innovate from day one, but also to ensure that all elements of their product and service are ready to compete globally.”
The region also enjoys structural advantages across specific sectors, such as software, engineering, food production, and niche manufacturing:
“There are strong educational traditions in these sectors, around which there are now established full ecosystems of entrepreneurs, investors, R&D centers, professional schools and universities, NGOs, media, and others. This has created a virtuous spiral with continued launch of many new innovative companies,” he shares.
Finally, government policy has also improved throughout the region in recent years. Coupled with EU support, this has made the business environment more friendly and has enabled SMEs to increase investment in innovation. Furthermore, as supply chains get localized, Rossen expects Southeast Europe to become one of the biggest beneficiaries, inviting further FDI and development.
Who are the target SMEs
Through the Southeast Europe Growth Equity Fund, BlackPeak Capital seeks to partner with the region’s first-class entrepreneurs aiming to expand regionally and globally through innovation, organic growth, and acquisitions.
As a generalist fund, they are looking across industries, however, with strong preference for IT (software), niche manufacturing, healthcare, business services, and consumer sectors.
Another key consideration for BlackPeak are environmental, social, and governance factors (ESG). The Fund takes ESG due diligence as part of their due diligence process, following the guidelines of the institutional investors. They also establish ESG-related KPIs and targets with their portfolio companies. In the medium term, the company is looking at ways to reach carbon neutrality both as a fund, and at the level of their portfolio.
What is BlackPeak’s track record
So far, the Fund has invested in two companies, both riding rising trends in their respective industries, and both committed to becoming carbon neutral.
One of these is Romanian company Verdino, a leading regional meat replacement producer that plans to expand its presence in Central and Eastern Europe, and increase its revenues to €100M in the next five years.
The regional Fund follows in the footsteps of BlackPeak Fund I, which invested €26 million euros across 12 companies, including global innovation leaders such as climbing walls manufacturer Walltopia, Digitall (former Bullpros), International Power Supply, Software Group, and energy efficiency company Resalta.
The Fund has the support of the European Union under the Equity Facility for Growth within the Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and small and medium enterprises (COSME), as well as of Invest BG.