Meet the Impact 20: Ambienta is Tronchetti Provera’s thesis come true

The Italian investor began his career with a thesis about environmental trends and the economy and now leads an asset manager dedicated to the impact space.

Milan-based investment firm Ambienta founder Nino Tronchetti Provera saw himself, even early in his career, as being more of a sustainability entrepreneur rather than a “finance guy”.

Tronchetti Provera was a graduating student in 1991 and had a job at the global corporate consulting company McKinsey in his sights. To make himself stand out as a candidate, he worked on a thesis covering intersecting trends in the environment and global economy.

“And it worked,” Tronchetti Provera told New Private Markets, adding that the project also gave him the understanding that there is no way the challenge of climate change will be met “without changing business models”.

In 1999, he had participated in his first wind project development, and by 2007, after realising the investment opportunity that was emerging around the thesis he studied in school, he launched Ambienta. Now, after 14 years in operation, his firm manages more than €1.5 billion in assets. It finished 13th in our Impact 20 ranking of the industry’s largest managers of private impact capital, with $961 million raised over the last five years.

“We have proved that companies backed by sustainability trends can represent a fantastic opportunity to scale,” Tronchetti Provera said, citing a portfolio average of more than 20 percent IRR in investments ranging from resource efficiency to pollution control.

Ambienta has been designed top to bottom with sustainability in mind. In 2012, the firm signed the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment. In 2019, Ambienta committed to the Net Zero by 2030 initiative, and it achieved the Climate Neutral label the next year.

An example of the firm’s entrepreneurial approach to benefiting the environment is one of its most recent investments. In July, Phoenix International, an Ambienta platform company, completed its acquisition of Adex, a leading manufacturer of complex and advanced large aluminium extrusion dies widely used in the transport and construction sectors.

The Impact 20 ranking measured final or official interim fundraising closes held between January 2016 and March 2021. The ranking uses the GIIN’s definition of impact, which considers investments that are made “with the intention to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return”.

This article is part of our Meet the Impact 20 series profiling the managers featured in the ranking. View our previous post here to learn about how Greg Shell at Bain Capital Double Impact has used investment capital to help children in need.