Mr. William T. Comfort completed a two day visit to Bangladesh, including attending a program on "Attracting Private Equity Investments to Bangladesh" hosted by LR Global Bangladesh (AMC). Mr. Comfort is the Chairman of Citigroup Venture Capital the position he has held since 1979, and is also Managing Partner and Chairman of the investment committee of Court Square Capital a venture capital firm formerly an affiliate of Citigroup. In addition, to various successful investments in North America, and Europe, Mr. Comfort was instrumental in identifying India early as a private equity destination in mid 1990’s and has successfully invested in many Indian corporations. Donald S. LaGuardia, Chairman of LR Global made the opening remarks. Honorable Finance Minister A.M.A. Muhith expressed his strong support for attracting long term FDIs and Private Equity investments to Bangladesh. In addition, attendees included Dr. Mirza Azizul Islam former Finance Advisor, Mr. Ziaul Haque Khondker, Chairman of SEC and Mr. Rakibur Rahman, the President of the Dhaka Stock Exchange. Mr. Reaz Islam, CEO of LR Global, presented the potential benefits for investors and issuers of Private Equity in Bangladesh and highlighted various economic benefits from Private Equity including job creation and acceleration of economic growth. Mr. Comfort shared the key success factors of India and how public and private sectors in Bangladesh can leverage similar models.
Private Equity in India started in 1996 with only five deals totaling USD 20mm, and grew to a staggering 17bln in 2007. In India, for next three years over USD 48 bln (almost 5% of GDP) is expected to be deployed across various sectors. Mr. Islam stated a lot more needed to be done from public and private sectors in Bangladesh, but it is certainly within reach since we have many Funds already knowledgeable about the region and we have ready demand for energy and infrastructure projects that are essential for the development of Bangladesh. Mr. Islam further added, Mr. Comfort’s visit is an important first step and we hope many more high profile investors will visit us and potentially invest in Bangladesh and will have the early mover advantage. Since, Private Equity Funds are looking for high growth countries and looking to diversify exposure, Bangladesh certainly could be the next destination for Private Equity investors.
Mr. Comfort also visited Mr. Ziaul Haque Khondker, Chairman of SEC and Mr. Rakibur Rahman the President of Dhaka Stock Exchange and exchanged ideas about the markets and ways Bangladesh can attract investments. Mr. Comfort stated, Public Sector funds (such as ICB), local Institutional Investors (Banks, NBFI, Insurance), and funds matched by Foreign investors need to create a critical mass of funds to be deployed to attractive and transparent businesses, but the government must take the lead role to promote such initiatives due to potential of significant benefit to the overall economy by attracting such investments and a potential multiplier effect thereafter. Donald S. LaGuardia, Chairman of LR Global stated that the program was very successful and very well attended by prominent members of the public, private sector and leadership of most financial institutions and prominent members of the parliament. Bangladesh is a strategic country for LR Global, and we are very encouraged by the potential for Private Equity opportunities in Bangladesh, and we will certainly facilitate the process for attracting foreign investments to Bangladesh including educating, structuring, as well as execution.