Stockholm (NordSIP) – Private equity firms are no longer exempt from the scrutiny of ESG-aware professional investors. Increasingly, they see the need to up their sustainability game. Nordic investment firm Cubera Private Equity, part of Storebrand Asset Management, provides the latest example in this area. On 20 May, the firm announced the appointment of Urs Bitterling to the newly established position of Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO). To signal the importance of the role, the firm states that Bitterling will be a member of Cubera’s leadership team, reporting directly to the CEO.
“I am grateful to join at this exciting point in time for sustainable finance in general and Cubera in particular,” comments Bitterling in his official statement. NordSIP took the opportunity to reach out to him and find out more about Cubera’s growing sustainability ambitions and how he intends to contribute to achieving them.
Listening to his story, it sounds like Bitterling’s whole career so far has led him to his current role at Cubera. “I have been close to sustainability all my life,” he says. “The topics have always been there, starting with the Project Finance role in the US in 2005 and throughout my research and consultancy days. Later on, at Allianz, I had the chance to develop the ESG approach from the ground up,” he reminisces.
For Bitterling, whose wife is Swedish, it was a personal decision to move to the Nordics. “I was, however, very happy to come in contact with the Cubera team and learn about what they have achieved so far and their ambitions within sustainability going forward,” he comments. “I feel I have found the perfect match. My personal mission is to make finance consciously and explicitly supportive of the necessary sustainable transition of the real economy. Cuberas’s mission is to develop value beyond return which means to explicitly address and manage the sustainability performance of individual funds,” explains Bitterling.
Recently, the private equity firm launched its first dedicated impact fund-of-fund in the Nordics, having followed this segment closely for the past 20 years. “I am looking forward to being an active part in developing Cubera into a leading player in this nascent field,” says Bitterling. However, the scope of his new role is much broader than the impact strategy. He will strive to further integrate sustainability into all of the firm’s existing and future fund-of-fund strategies. “I intend to drive ESG disclosures as a basis for further development and build best practices to shape the ESG market. Here, we need to collaborate across the PE industry in order to drive standardisation in collecting and reporting data. We have to make sure that the powerful impact capabilities that the PE ownership model offers are used in an optimal and tangible way,” stresses the CSO.
From the vantage point of an international career, Bitterling observes that the Nordic region is one of the furthest developed when it comes to sustainable finance. “Although the challenges are similar across the globe, the Nordics have a distinct role to play, given the maturity of the local market. Nordics investors are perfectly positioned to drive transparency across the investment value chain and scale engagement with corporate sectors,” he says.
“I see a great opportunity to contribute to Cubera’s sustainability journey, building on the firm’s outstanding 25-year long track record and the powerful platform they have built,” concludes Bitterling.