Leaders League spoke to the newly appointed president of the Spanish venture capital and private equity association ASCRI [Asociación Española de Capital, Crecimiento e Inversión], Aquilino Peña, about his priorities for the organization, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the private equity sector and the future prospects for the industry.
Peña, who is founding partner of Kibo Ventures – a venture capital fund that manages assets worth €115 million – said that LPs and funds have significant liquidity and that biotech and life sciences, in particular, were two sectors offering attractive investment opportunities.
What are ASCRI's priorities as an organization?
The vision for the next two years is to consolidate ASCRI as the most important association in the investment sector, and to ensure it is recognised as such by public administrations and our peers globally, especially in Europe . Our main objectives and lines of work will be the following: working on the attractiveness of our asset class, promoting regulatory changes in pension funds, demonstrating and vindicating the positive role of private equity and venture capital in society, consolidating the association as an interlocutor with public administrations and consolidating ASCRI as a reference point for sector statistics in Spain.
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected the Spanish private equity sector?
The current crisis has hit Spanish society hard. At first, the focus was to "control damage" by being on top of portfolio companies and restructuring plans for 2020, looking for additional liquidity and adapting the companies' cost base to the new situation. After the first shock, now we are starting to plan for 2021 while also identifying new investment opportunities in some sectors in this new environment – these include biotech and life sciences and certain digital areas.
In your view what are the key elements of effective leadership
The key elements are as follows:
- uniting people around an exciting, aspirational vision
- building a strategy for achieving the vision by making choices about what to do and what not to do
- attracting and developing the best possible talent to implement the strategy
- relentlessly focusing on results in the context of the strategy
- innovating to reinvent the vision and strategy
How do you think the private equity sector in Spain will develop in the coming year?
The venture capital and private equity sector is very strong in Spain. We have reached record levels of investment in the last three year. We certainly do not expect to have another record this year but we can clearly say that the sector is healthy, resilient and strong. In contrast to the last crisis, LPs and funds have liquidity and this capital will flow to the opportunities that could arise in the ‘new normality’. We are sure we will come out of this current crisis stronger and with many resources to keep on backing many SMEs, in doing so helping them grow and create more employment.