Apax founder Ronald Cohen to help guide firm’s $1bn impact strategy

The pioneering impact investor will chair an advisory board featuring a former White House adviser.

Apax Partners has formed an advisory board to help guide the London-based firm’s new private markets impact strategy.

The Impact Advisory Board will oversee reporting and measurement of Apax’s Global Impact Fund and “the driving of impact across partner companies”, a source familiar with the matter told New Private Markets. The fund launched around last November with a $1 billion target and this week received a $60 million commitment from the firm’s publicly listed private equity vehicle Apax Global Alpha.

Ronald Cohen, co-founder and former executive chairman of Apax, will chair the impact group’s advisory board, the source said. He will be joined by Ian Davis, the former chair and managing partner of consulting firm McKinsey & Company, who also has connections with the buyout firm, having advised its CEO on strategy more than a decade ago.

Other members of the board include George Serafeim, an ESG specialist at Harvard Business School, and Laura Tyson, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, who served as director of the White House National Economic Council during the Clinton administration.

Apax’s impact strategy invests in four sectors: health and wellness; environment and resources; social and economic mobility; and digital impact enablers. The firm assembled its impact team last year with the hires of Alykhan Nathoo, from Africa-focused Helios Investment Partners, and Norwest Venture Partners veteran David Su to co-head the strategy.

Apax’s establishment of an impact advisory board follows a similar move by EQT in January. The Swedish private markets firm announced the creation of a “mission board” led by co-chairs Paul Polman, former chief executive of Unilever, and banking veteran Jacob Wallenberg. EQT is raising the EQT Future fund which launched last October with a €4 billion target.

An Apax deal in August served as a preview for the approach the firm will take when deploying its impact strategy, the source told New Private Markets. In a three-company merger of non-profit donation platforms – including CyberGrants, EveryAction and Social Solutions – Apax created a “landscape-defining social good software platform,” the firm’s website states.

Apax launched its impact fund amid soaring interest from institutional investors which are increasingly seeking exposure to sustainable business opportunities benefiting social communities and the environment. Private markets managers are currently raising around $183 billion to invest just in climate strategies, according to the placement agent Campbell Lutyens.

Apax’s impact fundraise follows its recently raised $11 billion flagship Fund X and a $1.75 billion Apax Digital Fund II.