Estonia-based eAgronom has closed a $7.4 million Series A round led by ZGI Capital and Yolo Investments. Also participating was Trind VC, Iron Wolf Capital, and United Angels VC. eAgronom had previously raised $12 million in backing from investors.
Given that agriculture is one of the major sources of global emissions today, with this funding, eAgronom says it aims to create a farming-based carbon credits platform. It will also expand to new markets (including outside of the EU), and improve its carbon tracking technologies. It will also launch a Web3-based DAO called Solid World to help farmers and other carbon projects finance CO2 sequestration.
Because soils constitute the largest carbon sink outside oceans, the planet is going to need sustainable farming practices to deal with the climate crisis.
Given that carbon offsetting has experienced a lack of transparency and measurability, eAgronom believes that a blockchain solution will introduce more accountability.
It currently has 1,500 agribusinesses that cover over a million hectares of arable land across Europe as clients.
In a statement, Robin Saluoks, co-founder and CEO of eAgronom, said:“Through our experience helping farmers with technology, we are uniquely positioned to capture the global agri-carbon opportunity… To fight climate change, we have to provide transparent tracking and access to capital to all nature-based companies…. We aim to become the leading developer of high-quality carbon credits.”
Our aim is to “decarbonize agriculture, and this will be achieved through a combination of regulation, incentives, R&D, and consumer behavior. Our startup sits firmly in the incentives category, but we think the strongest competition comes from within the incentives category: trying to convince corporate ESG initiatives to support agriculture, which means eAgronom is competing for corporate ESG budgets. ESG practitioners have multiple options for offsetting carbon emissions, and this startup wants to be their first choice. The end goals are cleaner food production and fewer greenhouse gases.
Normunds Igolnieks, General Partner at ZGI Capital, said:“Monitoring software and farmer networks give the company a head start and strategic advantage. Combined with the global movement toward net zero, eAgronom is an exciting business to be a part of.”Tim Heath, General Partner at Yolo Investments, said:“Many companies want to be in Web3, but eAgronom and Solid World DAO have actual applications. Voluntary carbon markets lack transparency and liquidity, and blockchain is the best technology for providing both. We are excited to use our experience in crypto to support the company.”
Aqua Marina, the holding company for Olerex group in Estonia, has signed a binding agreement to acquire the Latvian petrol stations and convenience stores chain KOOL Latvija.
“We have been cooperating with our good neighbours the Latvians for many years,” commented Antti Moppel, Board Member of Aqua Marina, after signing in Riga. “Entering now directly into Latvian market, we bring in our market power, experience, and innovative mind, which will add value not only to KOOL Latvija, but to the whole Latvian petrol industry. Our strategic goal is to become a leading Latvian fuel and convenience retailer.”
“Developing KOOL and its network of fuel stations and convenience stores has been a challenging 3-year period, yet we are happy to have been part of their rapid growth journey,” said Mārtiņš Jaunarājs, partner at KOOL’s biggest shareholder Baltcap Growth Fund. “Now, when KOOL has established its market position, we have accomplished our main goal as growth capital provider. We are thankful to the management team and to our fellow investors for their contribution in developing the business. Considering Olerex leading market position in Estonia I trust Olerex will write the next successful chapter in KOOL´s growth story,” Jaunarājs added.
Normunds Igolnieks, partner at ZGI Capital, which provided KOOL with the initial growth capital back in 2016, partially sourced from the state-owned development finance institution ALTUM: “We have been with KOOL since its inception and are truly pleased with the swift development of the company, which has now been appreciated also by Olerex”.
Sandis Šteins, KOOL Latvija CEO and concept author, will continue managing the company. “Becoming the Latvian branch of Olerex international retail network opens up many new opportunities for our customers and accelerates our growth speed,” he emphasised.
After acquisition of KOOL Olerex becomes the only fuel company of Baltic origin, whose stations cover all three Baltic states.
Law firm Walless advised the sellers in the transaction, whilst Palladium law firm were engaged from the buyers side. The transaction was co-financed by SEB bank.
Aqua Marina is the holding company for Olerex and Olerex Terminal with 200 million euros in assets, established in 1990. Aqua Marina is fully based on the Estonian domestic capital.
Olerex is the Estonian fuel retail market leader with 100 service stations in Estonia and 5 stations in Lithuania. Olerex international fleet card for business customers is accepted in 5000 stations in the European Union, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, and Kazakhstan.
Olerex Terminal is the owner of a 78 000m3 marine oil terminal in port Tallinn customs-free zone, which is one of the most versatile and technically advanced terminals in the Baltic region. Olerex Terminal is the Estonia’s biggest taxpayer.
KOOL Latvija is the ninth biggest Latvian fuel retailer by sales volume with 10 service stations mostly in Riga and suburbs, but also in Jelgava and Valmiera.
BaltCap is the largest and most experienced private equity investor in the Baltics covering buyout, growth, venture, and infrastructure investments. Since 1995, BaltCap has invested in over 100 companies across a wide range of industry sectors and raised aggregate capital of over €650 million. BaltCap has a team of 35 investment professionals working across Tallinn, Riga, Vilnius, Warsaw, Helsinki and Stockholm offices.
ZGI Capital is one of the most experienced venture capital firms in the Baltics that started its operations in 2005. The investment period has been concluded for three generations of funds: ZGI-1, ZGI-2, ZGI-3 and now we are in investment period of ZGI-4 fund. ZGI Capital has won VC & PE sector awards for four consecutive years: in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. ZGI Capital is registered in the Financial and Capital Market Commission as an alternative investment fund manager.
ZGI Capital, alternative investment fund manager, with venture capital fund ZGI-4 has invested EUR 2 million in HansaMatrix to enhance the company's growth and competitiveness. As a result of the transaction, ZGI-4 Fund has become a 15.06% shareholder of HansaMatrix.
The financing will support HansaMatrix’ ongoing growth strategy and the ongoing shift from manufacturing towards offering a full range of services, including value added design, engineering and aftermarket services. The investment of the ZGI-4 venture capital fund will be used to replenish working capital and purchase technological equipment.
HansaMatrix CEO Ilmārs Osmanis commented:“We are proud to attract ZGI Capital – reputable Latvian investor in our professional investor group. Received funding will be used to continue allready started investment program to develop HansaMatrix as a technological leader in the production of optical and electronic systems in the Baltic – Nordic region.”
Rudolfs Krese, Investment Director of ZGI Capital added:“We have closely followed Hansamatrix's development and are pleasantly surprised by its rapid growth, service quality and speed. We are pleased to invest in the company that have consistently implemented an investment programme and can continue to support further implementation of this business plan with our contribution. Regular investments in automation, modernisation and the development of manufacturing technologies have allowed Hansamatrix to become a true high-tech company. With this investment, we continue to pursue the growth capital fund's ZGI-4 strategy - with funding, the company will implement a development investment programme and continue to pursue the main goal of growing from a Baltic player to an internationally recognised leader on a global scale."
HansaMatrix is a fast-growing, high-technology company offering product design, industrialization and complete manufacturing services in data networking, Internet of Things, industrial segments and other services to high added value business segments. In addition to complete manufacturing services of OEM products, the company offers an ODM business model to both start-up and established companies that seek product development partnerships.
ZGI Capital is one of the most experienced venture capital fund managers in the Baltics and has been operating since 2005. Currently, ZGI Capital manages the fourth generation growth capital fund ZGI-4.
Additional information available in the documents (in Latvian language) attached.
Māris Macijevskis, CFA
Management Board Member, Finance director
Phone: (+371) 6780 0002
ZGI Capital is one of the most experienced risk capital fund managers in the Baltics and has been operating since 2005. Currently, ZGI Capital manages the fourth-generation venture capital fund ZGI-4, whose largest investor is ALTUM.
The core business of Corle OÜ is the design, construction and maintenance of electrical and internet optical cable engineering systems. The company's turnover in 2018 reached EUR 7.1 million (27% increase over the previous year) and is projected to be more than doubled over the next few years. The company's home market is Estonia and Finland, and the first pilot project has been completed in Sweden. Currently negotiations have started to launch first project also in Germany.
The company is not a typical development story, as only recently at the end of 2017, current owner and CEO, Priit Uuemaa, who previously gained a high level management experience in one of Estonia's largest companies, Graanul Invest AS, saw potential, and acquired Corle OÜ using mezzanine debt (leveraged buyout).
Priit Uuemaa comments:"The company does not want to stop at current achievements and plans to expand further in the Baltics and Scandinavia, and ZGI investments are an important step towards achieving these goals".
Edgars Cimermanis, Investment Director of ZGI Capital:"The strategy of the fourth generation fund" ZGI-4 "managed by ZGI Capital provides an opportunity to diversify the fund's operations by investing in prospective companies also from other European Union countries outside of Latvia. We highly value Corle managements experience, qualifications and achievements shown during the previous year very successfully working in an engineering-solution-intensive industry with extensive development capabilities. The company has ambitions to continue expanding its business by expanding operations internationally, including in Latvia. We are pleased that, with this investment, we also have opportunity to take part in the company's growth story.”
The capital raising process was led by Auctus Capital. Auctus Capital partner Ēriks Reņģītis comments:“Auctus Capital specializes in capital raising for fast-growing companies, where traditional financing source are not enough. Considering that ZGI is backing ambitious companies with high growth potential also outside of Latvia, we believe that the fund is the right partner for Corle OÜ management goals”.
Juris Vaskāns, Member of the Board of ALTUM:“The Growth Risk Capital Fund ZGI-4 provides an opportunity for companies that need investment for further growth but who do not qualify for traditional commercial banking products. A quarter of the fund's investments are made in European Union companies outside Latvia, and one such perspective investment is made in Corle OÜ.”
ZGI-4 venture capital fund launched its activities and attracted the currently largest private investment in Latvia amounted 10 million EUR
One of the most experienced venture capital fund managers in the Baltic States, ZGI Capital, has attracted private investments of 10 million EUR to the newly founded capital growth fund ZGI-4. At present, it is the largest private investment raising in Latvia for a state co-financed capital growth fund. The largest amount, or 7.5 million EUR, was invested in the ZGI-4 fund by Swedbank Ieguldījumu Pārvaldes Sabiedrība AS, which will increase its contribution to 11 million EUR as other investors are involved. It is planned that the new fund will invest both in the traditional industries of the Baltic States, and in the so-called new sectors of the economy, such as fintech companies.
The total amount of the new growth fund ZGI-4 will be 25 million EUR, of which 15 million EUR will be financed by Development Finance Institution ALTUM from the resources of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and 10 million or 40% of the total fund will be private sector investments, from of which 7.5 million are invested by Swedbank Ieguldījumu Pārvaldes Sabiedrība, and 2.5 million EUR by the Central Europe insurer Balcia Insurance SE founded in Latvia and other private investors.
Upon completion of attracting private capital, the fund manager ZGI Capital will be able to start work on the first investments. The volume of investments into one enterprise will amount to 3.75 million EUR. 75% of investments are planned for Latvian companies, and for the diversification of the portfolio 25% of investments can be made in companies of other countries of the European Union. ZGI Capital has extensive experience in investments in metal processing, woodworking, logistics, information technology, engineering, export of services, etc.
The manager of alternative investment funds ZGI Capital, four years in a row awarded with the annual award of the Latvian Association of Private and Venture Funds, was selected as the growth venture capital manager within the ALTUM procurement process at the end of 2017.
Juris Vaskāns, Member of the Board of ALTUM: "Attracting private investments of 10 million EUR to a venture capital fund financed by ALTUM is a very important event for the whole venture capital industry. This, of course, is an indicator of trust and a positive signal to other private investors who are considering investment opportunities in Latvia. We are especially pleased that the largest investor in our venture capital fund is Swedbank Ieguldījumu Pārvaldes Sabiedrība, placing pension fund plans in alternative investment funds, which is already widely practiced thoughout the world. The synergy between ALTUM, Swedbank Ieguldījumu Pārvaldes Sabiedrba and other private investors in the ZGI-4 fund will provide an opportunity for the growth and development of companies with high growth potential, while traditional financiers refrain from investing in them due to high risks."
Pēteris Stepiņš, CEO, Swedbank Ieguldījumu Pārvaldes Sabiedrība AS: "We have successfully completed our painstaking work on choosing a fund that lasted more than half a year, with countless hours spent on the evaluation of the fund, in-depth study, interviews and discussions with the teams of ZGI Capital and ALTUM. These investments are an excellent addition to our local investment portfolio in Latvia and the Baltic States, which is an integral part of our investment strategy. We believe that long-term local investment can beat impersonal global investment. Therefore, we expect that ZGI Capital's active role in the selection and provision of financing for innovative companies will not only give a good return for our customers, but will also be a healthy incentive for the development of venture capital and innovative enterprise ecosystems."
Normunds Igolnieks, leading partner of ZGI Capital: "First of all, we would like to thank for the trust our investors - ALTUM, the largest manager of the Swedbank pension fund, Central Europe insurer Balcia Insurance SE founded in Latvia and other private investors. We will use the gained experience of managing the fund of the fourth generation to get additional capital from investors and support local entrepreneurs, providing the necessary capital for future growth. We will invest in small and medium-sized enterprises that have entrenched in the domestic market and enter new export markets, mastering new innovative products or technologies, building up capacities, developing new lines of business, increasing profitability or automating the corporate processes. Currently, the first round of attracting fund investors is taking place. The fund starts its work, and our goal is to attract additional private investors within the next 12-24 months and increase the fund's assets to 35 million EUR."
About Swedbank Ieguldījumu Pārvaldes Sabiedrība AS
Swedbank Ieguldījumu Pārvaldes Sabiedrība AS is the largest manager of the 2nd pension pillar in Latvia: as of August 21, 2013, the number of participants in the 2nd pension pillar managed by the company has already exceeded 542,000 people, and the amount of assets managed has exceeded 1.49 billion EUR. The company also manages the 3rd pension pillar plans. Swedbank pension pillars have been awarded the Investment and Pensions Europe awards as the best in various categories in Central and Eastern Europe. Investment and Pensions Europe (IPE) recognized Swedbank's 2nd pillar pension plan Dinamika as the best in Central and Eastern Europe in 2013, 2016 and 2017, and the Swedbank’s 3rd pillar pension plan Dinamika +60 in 2016 was recognized by IPE Real Estate Global Awards as the best real estate investor in Eastern Europe and several major Western European countries.
About ZGI Capital
ZGI Capital is one of the most experienced managers of venture funds in the Baltic States, which started operations in 2005. Investment periods were crowned by three generations of funds: ZGI-1, ZGI-2, ZGI-3 and the next-generation venture capital fund ZGI-4. ZGI Capital was awarded an annual award by the Latvian Private and Venture Capital Association for four years – in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. ZGI Capital is the manager of alternative investment funds registered by the Financial and Capital Market Commission (FCMC).
ZGI Capital received the LVCA's award Exit of the Year for sale of company Art Fairs Service. Successfully implemented strategy allowed to achieve the goals and resulted in a fruitful exit.
Tradition of the “Investor of the Year” award was introduced in 2015 as a result of the cooperation of the Latvian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (LVCA) and the Latvian Business Angel Network (LatBAN). The goal of the initiative implemented by LVCA and LatBAN is promotion of the investment sector development in Latvia by expanding the network of investors. Through identification and popularisation of the most successful investments of the year, the organisers would like to draw attention to the significance of the comparatively new sector in Latvia in supporting the viable projects.
— TechChill (@TechChill) November 22, 2017
On 16 November 2017 a contract was signed for the creation of a new venture capital fund “ZGI-4”, which will be managed by venture capital fund manager “ZGI Capital”. Currently, the fund is engaged in attracting private funding to start working on the first fund investments in summer of 2018.
Venture capital is a long-term equity investment in companies with high growth potential, boosting their value growth, growth speed and expansion
Venture capital investments can be made as investments in a company’s equity capital or quasi-capital
Venture capital provides opportunities for companies with high growth potential and innovative enterprises which do not receive investments from traditional financiers due to high risk
The volume of investments can reach EUR 3.75 million in one enterprise
The investment period – up to 5 years
The investor becomes a business partner, sharing the risks and the income of the company, and who provides the company with his experience, knowledge, access to a range of contacts and experts, with an intention of enhancing the company’s turnover, profitability and value
Venture capital investments are made to increase a company’s value by funding its growth and development
Venture capital fund ZGI-3, which is managed ZGI Capital, has sold its 28% stake in the exhibition services company Art Fairs Service.
The company was registered in the spring of 2014, and turned to the investment fund seeking financing necessary for buying equipment. The company has successfully found a niche for itself thanks to innovative technical solutions and original logistical and workflow organization procedures. It enabled the Latvian company to compete with similar companies abroad, which had been in the business for years. It proves that, even in such a seemingly traditional business as organization of and providing equipment for exhibitions, innovative approach can lead to success.
The company has been steadily expanding into new markets. In 2016, Art Fairs Services organized exhibitions in Belgium, Sweden, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Great Britain, Denmark, Spain and Latvia. Exports account for 99% of the company’s turnover. Art Fairs Service is planning further growth on European markets and also expand into Middle East by employing new business models.
Art Fairs Service earned high marks in the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia’s Export and Innovation Award competition 2016, category Best Exporter, and in the Latvian Export Product 2014 competition organized by the Export Council of Latvia.
The Minister for Economics Arvils Ašeradens addressed the winners of “Investor of the Year ‘16” and investment professionals and emphasised: “Today we are honouring projects with the highest possible added value. Modern and innovative economics cannot exist without the smart or venture capital. Healthy development of the eco-system of innovations, in turn, cannot exist without investments of business angels. Funding of venture capital or smart investments provides the entrepreneurs an opportunity to receive not only additional investments, but also support from experienced experts for the implementation of their ideas. Meanwhile, business angels are like messengers of approaching spring. Intuition, knowledge and courage of business angels raise the potential of the national exports, which is the safest development for the national economy.”
“The year 2016 was a productive year in the sector of private and risk capital. The members of the LVCA have made over 50 investments, providing financial support in the amount of more than 15 million euros to companies operating in different industries. I would like to stress that the contribution of other professional participants of the market, lawyers and financial specialists, is also of importance. This is a joint action resulting in the growth and development of the Latvian investment environment. All the winners of the “Investor of the Year ‘16” award in the sector of legal entities are visionaries of our industry whose working results and contribution we can assess with the mark of the top quality,” said Edgars Pīgoznis, Chairman of the Board of the LVCA.
This year the Forum will be centred on such “hot” areas as Robotics, FinTech, Life-Sciences and Agritech.
The Baltic M&A and Private Equity Forum has become the main networking event for the industry and market participants interested in the region. It welcomes representatives from among private equity and venture capital funds and investment banking, consultants, lawyers, investors, and other representatives of the financial sector, as well as business executives and owners. The Forum offers a platform for establishing new contacts, sharing experience, finding new business opportunities and spending time with peers.
Topic: FinTech - smart youngsters shaking up the market
Rūdolfs Krese, Investment Director at ZGI Capital ( Latvia)
Dāvis Barons, Co-Founder of Fintech Creamfinance (Latvia);
Guna Dirveika, Senior Legal Consultant at Financial Capital Market Commission (Latvia);
Kaidi Ruusalepp, Founder and CEO at Funderbeam (Estonia);
Darius Kavaliauskas, Head of Rise Vilnius and VP Open Innovation at Barclays (Lithuania);
The Schaeffler Group has acquired Latvian company “SIA Naco Technologies” in Riga. Naco Technologies has unique expertise in the development of new coating systems. Schaeffler is the market leader in functional surface technology in several market segments. Acquiring this highly innovative service provider will help strengthen Schaeffler’s core expertise in this technology of the future.
The start-up company “SIA Naco Technologies” was founded in Latvia’s capital in 2010 with the support of “Commercialization Reactor Riga”, an agency and marketing platform for science-based young businesses. As just one example, the specialists from Latvia have developed what is currently the fastest process for physical vapor deposition (PVD). This technology will complement and further optimize Schaeffler’s high-tech vacuum facilities for PVD and plasma-based PACVD processes that are used in high-volume production. Naco currently has six employees.
Prof. Peter Gutzmer, Deputy CEO and CTO, regards this acquisition as a strategic addition to one of Schaeffler’s key competencies.
“It underlines our claim to technology leadership in coating technology. Our experts are especially important in ensuring the implementation of value adding steps that are essential for quality, functions and costs for important products and components. By acquiring Naco, we have secured the experience and expertise of a scientist highly renowned in the scientific community, five highly-trained specialists and an innovative prototype PVD facility.”
In addition to product and technology expertise, Schaeffler thus also expands its industrialization and value added competencies in surface technology, securing the entire knowledge about this key technology in-house.
For Dr. Yashar Musayev, Senior Vice President of the Competence Center Surface Technology, his new colleagues in Riga are an ideal addition in this field:
“Naco Technologies has been instrumental in promoting the development for particularly environmentally friendly and innovative PVD processes. With Professor Valery Mitin, the company has an internationally renowned expert at its helm. Going forward, we will be able to benefit exclusively from his experience and his team.”
Prof. Mitin is the co-founder of this young company and has more than 40 years’ experience in research, development and production in the nano industry from his work at the “Moscow High Technology Science Research Institute of Non-organic Materials”. He was the world’s first designer of a PVD system. Seventy-one-year-old Prof. Mitin is looking forward to working with the specialists at Schaeffler:
“I would like to contribute my knowledge and the results of our work at one of the most innovative and leading global companies for surface technology. Together we will be able to advance the development of new and even better coating systems and achieve a quantum leap for production methods.”
Schaeffler carries out coating at over 20 locations around the world in more than 50 modern coating machines using a range of methods and technologies, such as spraying and painting procedures as well as chemical and physical processes such as PVD/PACVD. Several million parts with added value through coating technology were delivered from the plants of the Schaeffler Group last year.
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The Schaeffler Group is a leading global integrated automotive and industrial supplier. The company stands for the highest quality, outstanding technology, and strong innovative ability. The Schaeffler Group makes a key contribution to “mobility for tomorrow” with high-precision components and systems in engine, transmission, and chassis applications as well as rolling and plain bearing solutions for a large number of industrial applications. The company generated sales of approximately 12.1 billion euros in 2014. With more than 82,000 employees, Schaeffler is one of the world’s largest technology companies in family ownership and, with approximately 170 locations in 50 countries, has a worldwide network of manufacturing locations, research and development facilities, and sales companies.