Central Eastern European private equity firm Abris Capital Partners has become the latest private markets participant to become a B Corporation, according to a press release.
B Corp certification is administered by US non-profit B Lab and involves an independent evaluation of a company’s social and environmental performance. Companies need a score of at least 80 to receive certification, according to B Lab’s website; Abris’ score was 109.
Abris began to seek accreditation two years ago, head of ESG Monika Nachyla told NPM. What followed was a “long process” that included several rounds of audits with B Lab analysts. There was nothing “fundamental” that Abris needed to change to comply with the requirements, Nachyla explained, but the firm did need to tighten up its documentation: “They didn’t want to take our word for granted. They wanted to see documented procedures which were approved.”
Nachyla hopes Abris will become “more visible” as the only manager in the CEE region with the accreditation, which will lead to relationships with “a new cohort of LPs who are investing in sustainability-aware GPs”. As for existing investors, they can feel “more comfortable” knowing that the manager’s ESG credentials are being scrutinised.
Some managers have encouraged their portfolio companies down the B Corp route, but Nachyla stressed that Abris will not do so unless it makes sense for them. This could include companies in sectors “where B Corp means something”, or if it would help an asset be a “sexy potential target” for global buyers.
A smattering of large private fund firms have become B Corps in recent years. These include: European growth equity firm Summa Equity; Africa-focused private equity firm Helios Investment Partners; London and New York-based fund manager TowerBrook Capital; and Italian sustainable investor Ambienta.