Ethical management

Argentum, a leading Nordic investment fund, is committed to research and ethical choices

Photo: Argentum Argentum’s board, from left: Tina Steinsvik Sund, Mari Tjømøe, Tom Knoff, and Grethe Høiland. Kjell Martin Grimeland was not present when the picture was taken.

Photo: Argentum
Argentum’s board, from left: Tina Steinsvik Sund, Mari Tjømøe, Tom Knoff, and Grethe Høiland. Kjell Martin Grimeland was not present when the picture was taken.

Rasmus Falck
Oslo, Norway

Argentum was established in 2001. It is the Norwegian Government’s fund investing in private equity funds, which in turn invest in companies. The fund is indirectly invested in more than 500 companies in Norway, employing some 29,000 people. The fund invests in both buyout and venture funds and has committed close to NOK 3 billion, or roughly 40 percent of the balance, to Norwegian venture funds. In the venture area they have backed funds specializing in energy, information technology, and life science, and are one of the largest backers of Northzone Ventures, Energy Ventures, and NeoMed. Argentum’s portfolio represents about 25 percent of all venture investments in Norway.

Argentum currently has NOK 10 billion under management, whereof two thirds are managed on behalf of the Norwegian Government and one third on behalf of private investors through different programs. These programs have been developed to mobilize further capital to the Nordic private equity market. Argentum prides itself with delivering returns on par with the best European fund managers.

As a leading investor in the Nordic region, the fund has a unique insight into the Nordic private equity market. They are early in securing the latest news, and their analysis team continuously follows the Nordic market. They track deals, fundraising, news, and the latest events. Argentum wants to make information and statistics from the private equity industry easily available in a searchable database. The fund also publishes reports and analyses. They publish a quarterly market report that provides detailed overview of market activity.

The fund has taken the initiative to establish the Argentum Center for Private Equity, with other partners at the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH). This is an independent academic research center. The objective of the center is to bring together researchers and practitioners to further understand how private equity works and strengthen the understanding of best practices in private equity management and the contributions of private equity to business, investors and society. Columbia Business School and Kellogg School of Business are both represented on the advisory board.

The fund has a set of ethical guidelines. These guidelines ensure that they do not make investments with an unacceptable risk of contributing to unethical acts or omissions. In every area of their work as managers of assets on behalf of third parties, they want to maintain a high ethical standard. All activities in which they are involved must be legal and according to principles set out in the UN’s Global Compact. The board is responsible for monitoring work on corporate social responsibility and ethical matters. The managing director reports at least once a year on how the ethical guidelines have been followed, and the board program includes an annual discussion and evaluation of the work done.

This article originally appeared in the June 12, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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Rasmus Falck

Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his masters degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo.