Maj Targets Andes Nations With $100 Million Micro Finance Fund

  • Danish asset manager to boost private equity acquisitions
  • Maj says it’s targeting mature financial institutions

Maj Invest, a Danish asset manager with $8 billion in assets, is looking to boost acquisitions in the micro finance industry in the Andean region.

The Copenhagen-based asset manager is in the process of raising capital to grow the size of its Maj Invest Financial Inclusion Fund II to $100 million by June from $75 million now, according to Kasper Svarrer, who oversees Maj’s private-equity business in emerging markets.

The fund is one of two managed by Maj focused on micro finance companies in emerging markets. Maj has invested in Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia and plans to expand further in those countries, Svarrer said in an interview in Lima. Micro finance companies lend to people who don’t have access to commercial banks. In Latin America, typical loans are about $1,800 and interest rates average 28 percent, according to the Inter-American Development Bank. Demand hasn’t diminished even after years of income growth in Latin America as many people remain outside the commercial banking system, Svarrer said.

“Even though you have economies moving up the scale and becoming richer and richer, there’s a very large client group below the middle class that demands financial services just like anyone else,” Svarrer said. “In Latin America and emerging markets there’ll be a huge demand for many years to come.”

Maj bought a stake in Financiera Credinka, one of Peru’s biggest micro finance companies, in 2010 and later acquired a 19 percent stake Credinka’s parent, Diviso Grupo Financiero.

In the micro finance industry, “you have a top segment that is very professionally run, very mature financial institutions,” He said. “These are the ones we’re targeting.”

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