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Olivia Zitouni, Group Head of PERES Commercial, supports private equity clients with her teams

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Olivia Zitouni, you’ve just joined CACEIS as Group Head of PERES Sales. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am delighted to have been working with the PERES’ sales team, and more broadly, CACEIS teams across the Group’s various locations since early October. Every day we work closely with the operations departments to help achieve our clients’ development goals, we seek to win new business from prospective clients and actively participate in company projects and product development initiatives.

Olivia Zitouni - Group Head of PERES CommercialI have already worked with several members of the PERES team from Luxembourg and France while at Crédit Agricole CIB, where I spent four years managing client relationships for private equity funds within the Private Capital Services line, headed by Stéphane Barret. I was in charge of the Commercial division brought together by Crédit Agricole group entities that support private equity, real estate and infrastructure funds. During this time, the Group took advantage of many synergies and experienced significant business growth. Before this, I was working with the head of finance at CACIB, involved in areas such as strategy, asset liability management, the implementation of regulatory reporting and the creation of a cross-functional financial information team.

What’s your assessment of 2021 for private equity and CACEIS’ PERES business line?

2021 saw continued growth in the number of funds clients entrusted to us - a trend that started in 2020. We passed the symbolic €300bn mark in assets under depositary, and by the end of September had reached €320bn. Clients’ fund raising efforts continue apace, spurred by asset class diversification needs and accelerated fund deployments. This was particularly the case in the first half of 2021, when transaction activity reached record levels. Clients also made up for lost ground on certain transactions that weren’t possible in 2020 due to the lockdowns.

We’re working on a day-to-day basis to anticipate and adapt to the trends in our market, which is expected to continue to grow by more than 10% per annum over the next 4-5 years.

Our strong relationship model and dedicated solutions have won our clients’ confidence and allow us to provide support as their vehicles grow and keep pace with their increasing sophistication. For this reason, we’ve refocused our expertise on investment funds, keeping the acronym PERES, which is well known to our clients and the market, but changing the meaning to Private Equity Real Estate Solutions. We feel it’s important that our name reflects both our day-to-day activities and our long-term commitment to being a truly trusted partner for our clients in terms of building solutions that meet their changing needs.

How do you see the private equity market in 2022?

In early talks with our clients they’ve revealed attractive fund projects in an ever-increasing range of asset classes: infrastructure, real estate, funds of funds, PE large-caps, mid-caps, PE private debt, real estate private debt, infrastructure private debt, etc. Investment management companies continue to expand across Europe and there’s a strong trend towards choosing Luxembourg as a domicile. CACEIS is in Monterey Insight’ TOP 5 in Luxembourg and we’re attracting more international players every year. We’ll therefore continue our ambitious and risk-controlled growth strategy with a view to strengthening or accelerating, if necessary, the rollout of our offerings in all the main countries where we’re present (Luxembourg, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Ireland, the Netherlands, etc.).

CACEIS is currently underlining its commitment to being a “sustainable” asset servicer; what are PERES’ ESG credentials?

Asset management companies make strong ESG commitments to their investors (LPs) and are keen to surround themselves with service providers who share this commitment. In this respect, CACEIS is a preferred partner for the asset management companies leading the way in ESG and impact investment.

CACEIS is fully committed to the Crédit Agricole Group’s ambitious Societal Project, and thanks to the Group’s internationally recognised expertise in sustainable finance, we have the right resources to support our clients throughout their ESG journey.

CACEIS’ CSR policy is based on three pillars: supporting our clients in complete confidence and security, promoting the energy and environmental transition, and being a responsible and committed employer. CACEIS was awarded the Platinum label in 2020 by CSR performance rating platform, Ecovadis, and thus joined the top 1% of the best rated companies in its sector out of the 60,000 evaluated.

The success of our approach is reflected in the satisfaction expressed by clients in surveys over the last two years.

In addition, we enable our clients to set up equity bridge financing linked to ESG criteria, a service provided in close collaboration with Crédit Agricole CIB and the French bank LCL. Demand for this type of product is very strong, with 30% of our new financing at CACEIS currently linked to extra-financial criteria. We expect the majority of our equity bridge financing to be ESG-linked within two to three years.

The recent business successes with pan-European management companies whose funds incorporate extra-financial criteria within the meaning of Articles 8 and 9 of the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation, attest to the soundness of our actions.

Together with the sales teams, I’m really looking forward to keep progressing alongside our clients.