Several years ago, Justus Martens and Erik Baas decided to combine their considerable local and global experience in the field of private equity, investing, building and running companies, financial analysis and financing, and their experience with establishing and running the sister sister fund, the Aruba Growth Fund, to establish themselves in Curacao and to set up and manage a local investment fund. They created the most appropriate vehicle to generate local economic value and growth from within the local business community; a private equity fund funded by and invested in local companies and institutions. Through the Curacao Growth Fund, they intend to continue their successful strategy of making investments in partnership with management in businesses that could recover, improve or grow businesses that have a clear potential and function within the local or regional economy.
Justus Martens started his career as a commodity banker in 1989 at MeesPierson in Amsterdam; one of the oldest merchant banks in the world. There he was active in advising and financing traders and processors of commodities around the world. In 1993, he left with a team for a competitor, ING Bank, to continue the same activities from Amsterdam, and later from New York and Curaçao. In 1996, he became an entrepreneur and established the Global Foods Group in Curacao (www.globalfoodsholding.com). Global Foods developed into a large global trader, processor and distributor of sugar and other agricultural commodities, with factories on three continents, offices in seven countries and more than 450 employees. As from 2005, the group diversified into the production of sugar, ethanol and bio-electricity from sugar cane, and founded the CNAA group in Brazil (total investment: USD 1 billion). Today, this company has more than 60,000 ha’s of sugar cane plantations and over 3,000 employees.
Since the majority of the equity for CNAA was provided by a number of very reputable private equity companies (including Goldman Sachs), the group has been actively involved with private equity funds and structures in this transaction. As entrepreneurs and investors, the partners of Global Foods have been involved with private equity investments for over 15 years. Justus not only has extensive experience as an investor and working with investors; he also has been a hands-on operational manager of small and large companies, dealing with a full range of corporate issues (i.e. business development, recruitment, management, contracting, administration, financial management, financing, marketing, sales, cooperation, legal, tax planning, reporting, regulation analysis).
Justus earned his BBA from Nijenrode University and holds MBA’s from University of Florida (Finance, 1988) and Nijenrode University (International Business, cum laude, 1989). He has served on the Board of CNAA, Biox International and Awash Foods.
Erik Baas started in the audit practice of Ernst & Young in the Netherlands in 1985 and subsequently worked for E&Y in Curaçao, Italy and the Netherlands, where he joined the E&Y Corporate Finance group in 1998. When leaving E&Y in 2006, Erik held the position of director. In the period 1998 to 2006, Erik was involved in a large number of (private equity) deals and worked with many Dutch and European private equity players (i.e. CVC, NPM, Gilde, HAL, Doughty Hanson, Rabo securities, Waterland, ABN AMRO Capital, GIMV, Oranje Nassau Particpaties and Boekhoorn M&A). In 2006 Erik moved back to Curaçao to become CFO and later CEO of ENNIA. As such Erik has excellent knowledge of all ins and outs of the private equity industry as well as the (life) insurance and pension funds industry. Erik was a member of the investment committee of ENNIA and was in that role involved with investments in and financing of local projects. In 2010, Erik joined BDO as partner and started developing his ideas about setting up local investment vehicles for pension funds and life insurers. Since this was conflicting with other BDO businesses he decided to further develop this line of business outside BDO, while working as an interim manager for amongst others SGG Trust and Fund Services in Curacao.
Erik holds an accounting degree (RA) from the Dutch Institute of Chartered Accountants (het Koninklijk NIVRA).
Gregory Elias started in the financial services business 30 years ago, when he co-founded the Holland Intertrust Group. As Managing Director, he played an important role in developing the group and making it one of the largest global management and trust companies with offices in 13 countries. In 2002, Holland Intertrust was sold to Fortis PLC, and merged into MeesPierson, the oldest Dutch investment bank. After acting as the General Manager bank and trust for Pierson Bank/Intertrust until 2006, Greg decided to establish his own management and trust company again, and created United Trust. This group has rapidly grown since then, and is offering a full range of integrated financial services from 9 offices around the world.
Greg holds a law degree from de Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam and is a Candidate Civil Law Notary. He is a founder and former Chairman (1986 - 2002) of the Offshore Association of the Netherlands Antilles and Special Council (on matters of International Finance and Tax) to the Government of the Netherlands Antilles. From 2002 through 2009 he was a Member of the Supervisory Board of Banco di Caribe. Greg is actively involved with Fundashon Bon Intenshon.
Christopher Fiore has over 20 years of equity investing experience in public and private markets. He is currently a co-founder and principal of the investment advisor to an established hedge fund that specializes in global emerging markets through long/short investments in equities, fixed income, currencies, commodities and private equity. Chris manages the private equity portfolio and serves on the Board of Directors to several of the fund’s investments.
From 1998 to 2006, Chris was a Principal and Board Advisor to SEAF, a private equity firm (founded by Bert van der Vaart) specialized in global emerging markets with an active presence in over 35 countries worldwide. Chris previously worked with Wasserstein Perella Group, Inc, including as a Vice President in the Merchant Banking Group and as an Associate in Asia as the Wasserstein Perella representative to Nomura Wasserstein Perella, Ltd., the cross-border merger and acquisition advisory joint venture with Nomura Securities. He was directly involved with several leveraged buyout investments in the US, including the acquisition and IPO of Imax Corp., the purchase and sale of All-Clad Metalcrafters, Ltd., the asset purchase of Golden Books Family Entertainment in partnership with the Bertelsmann Publishing Group pursuant to a Delaware bankruptcy proceeding, and numerous venture capital investments completed by Wasserstein Adelson Ventures, L.P., a venture capital fund organized as a Small Business Investment Company.
He holds a B.A. in Economics from Davidson College.
Philip Romer has over 30 years experience as board member of pension funds, institutional investors and public advisory bodies in Curacao, including as Chairman of boards of the pension funds of Isla Curacao (the refinery) and the Curacao Drydock and of the SER (the highest social-economic advisory board in the country). Philip also has been the managing director of the principal investor in the Curacao Growth Fund, APC and its mortgage bank, for over 30 years, having the ultimate responsibility for an investment portfolio that today exceeds ANG 4 billion, and bringing a wealth of experience with local and international institutional investments.
He holds a degree in actuarial science from the University of Amsterdam.