PC Capital is one of Mexico’s leading private equity firms. Founded in 2008, ranks 1st in the Mexican M&A middle market, and has received numerous awards. KITE Invest spoke with PC Capital’s Managing Partner, Pablo Coballasi, about Mexico’s private equity industry, its future, and ways in which it will enhance as a result of the reforms and foreign interests.
KITE Invest: As Managing Partner at PC Capital could you please share with us your thoughts on the reforms in Mexico? And when do you think the reforms will begin to produce tangible results?
Pablo Coballasi: First of all, allow me to begin by saying thank you to KITE Invest for focusing on Mexico during this very interesting time.
Your questions touch on a historical moment for Mexico. After having an energy sector that closed for 70 years to foreign investment, Mexico has finally broken the barrier and allowed for it come in. The energy reform in particular is significant, because Mexico has numerous natural resources that remain untapped by Mexican industrial groups and international partners, such as the UK. Energy investments are large in nature and they trickle down to every sector in the economy; therefore, we will see not only direct investments in oil & gas, but also investments in everything that revolves around the energy industry. Many of the reforms that have been promoted by the current administration are wonderful news for everyone who lives in this country as well as for our trading partners.
Prosperity and economic growth will be a direct a result of the reforms today, as well as, in the long term.
KITE: Taking into consideration that the Government stated that Mexico would have a 2.7% GDP growth for 2014, as this is now unlikely to happen, how do you view Mexico’s short-term economic outlook?
PC: Although the country will not realise this level of economic growth this year, I think we must view the economic changes happening in Mexico over the long-term.
When you look at the global economy, the world is coming out of a global recession; in this context, Mexico is shinning relative to a lot of other economies in the world. European and U.S. investors are looking for growth, and they have realised that growth is not going to come from their own respective economies.
KITE: In Mexico, the private equity industry is relatively young, although it is growing and having an increasingly important impact. In this regard, how would you say PE funds play a key role in Mexico’s economy?
PC: Mexico has a vibrant economy and we are just beginning to see private equity penetrate Mexico’s industries.
The pension funds were only recently permitted to invest in private equity funds and that has changed the dynamics of the industry in general. As a result, we have a much more robust private equity industry today, and it is only poised to get larger simply because of asset allocation issues.
I firmly think that private equity will continue to grow as an industry in Mexico and it will become more and more important as time goes by due to the nature of the size of the economy and the assets under management that the pension funds have.
KITE: What measures should be taken to stimulate greater private equity and venture capital investments in untapped areas of potential in Mexico?
PC: A series of steps have already been taken, such as how the pensions funds are now able to invest in private equity funds. While this is a huge step in the growth of the industry; there is still much to be done.
For instance, there are certain limitations to the way in which private equity is allowed to flow from the pension funds to the private equity managers. I think these limitations will eventually go away and our private equity industry will become similar to that of the PE industry in the United States and Europe. Pension funds have to invest directly into Limited Partnerships without having to do that through publicly listed vehicles.
Another initial step that was taken towards the development of the PE industry in Mexico was the creation of the INADEM (The National Institute of the Entrepreneur), which is a government agency focused on fostering entrepreneurship, small and medium size businesses as well as the venture capital industry. The creation of INADEM has allowed for the creation of over 25 venture capital funds in a period of less than two years.
What needs to be done in the future is to continue with these types of initiatives and programs.
KITE: PC Capital recently launched a PE fund after a successful run of investments in Mexican startups, could you please comment on PC Capital’s trajectory?
PC: PC Capital is very excited to invest in growing Mexican companies. What we have seen in Mexico is that many SMEs have struggled historically to raise capital and get financing from traditional lenders.
Our fund will focus on providingresources to those companies that are currently overlooked by the Mexican banking system and larger private equity funds. We are looking for solid management teams with proven business models where we can invest US$1 to US$10 million dollars per company.
We are very fortunate to have formed such a first class team of professionals and privileged U.S. and Latin American Limited Partners for our fund.
KITE Invest: Could you comment on the focus of PC Capital’s investments?
PC: We look at an array of different sectors that we believe will be the pillars of development for the Mexican economy in the next 20 years. We are a sector agnostic firm, but the three areas that we focus the most on are education, sustainability, and financial services.. We are looking at many opportunities in these areas and are looking forward to making a series of investments in these sectors in 2015.
KITE Invest: Mexico and the UK are well placed together to influence the changing relationship between Europe and the Americas, as major players in their own geopolitical spheres and as cultural leaders in the Spanish and English speaking worlds. What are some main sectors within the Mexican economy that PC Capital anticipates will attract interest by UK private equity and venture capital investors?
PC: There are numerous opportunities for the UK to expand its presence in Mexico. One area of interest for the UK is certainly the energy sector;
Secondly, manufacturing in general is also a very vibrant sector. Mexico has over 40 free trade agreements and a strategic geographical advantage due to its proximity to the United States and the northern Latin American countries. As a result, Mexico has become an export hub for many industries, including the automotive industry.
Thirdly, are services in general. The Mexican economy is large, has a robust population that is migrating into the middle class and is currently demanding goods and services that need to be provided at an accelerated pace.
KITE Invest: Thank you for your insights and on the Mexican economy, Mexico private equity industry and your perspectives on what the future holds for Mexico.