At the beginning of 2011, Milton Berlinski, Rene Kan and Justus Martens decided to combine their considerable local and global experience in the field of private equity, investing, building and running companies, financial analysis and financing, to establish themselves in Aruba 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 Aruba 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.
Until the end of 2011, Milton Berlinski (Aruban) was a Senior Partner and Vice Chairman at Goldman Sachs (“GS”) in New York; a leading global investment banking, securities and investment management firm, with a market capitalization of USD 84 billion and in excess of USD 850 billion in assets under management. After joining the firm in 1986, Milton became partner in 1996. Milton's assignments at GS have included leading partner in their Global Financial Institutions advisory business responsible for global relationships with the largest banks, asset managers, finance and insurance companies as well as sovereign relationships. He also ran the GS Corporate Development and Strategy Group, focused on building the GS global strategy which included organic growth strategies as well as acquisitions. As head of strategy he was responsible for all of GS's largest acquisitions since going public in 1998, including the USD 7 billion acquisition of the leading market making and electronic trading platform Spear, Leeds and Kellogg. Most recently, Milton was the Global Head Financial Sponsors, responsible for the firm's most important private equity and hedge fund clients. In this capacity, Milton has helped GS during the last four years to co-invest over USD 18 billion of its partners' capital in private equity, alongside his clients (private equity funds).
He earned an MBA from the Wharton School of Finance in 1980.
Rene Kan (Aruban) 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 Aruba (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 (three times the size of Aruba) 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. Rene 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, logistics, contracting, administration, financial management, financing, marketing, sales, cooperation).
Rene earned his BBA from Boston University and his MBA from Nijenrode University (1989). He has served on the Board of Directors of CNAA in Brazil and is currently the Chairman of the Board of the Algemene Ziektekosten Verzekering (“AZV”), Chairman of the Board of the Stichting Monumentenfonds, and Chairman of the Board of the Ike Cohen Charity Foundation, all in Aruba. On behalf of Global Foods, Rene has been active in allocating the group's considerable charity contributions to specific projects, such as the FAVI building (Fundashon Arubiano di esnan Visualmente Incapasita in Primavera), the new YMCA building in Dakota, several large projects for Hende Muhe den Dificultat (Blijf van Mijn Lijf Huis), Clown Doctors, Stichting Edmund Harms and Club Kibrahacha.
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 Aruba (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, Awash Foods and will serve on the Board of Tapergy International.
Gerald op de Weegh started his career at Deloitte in 1990; as Teamleader Auditing in The Netherlands. Therafter, he was Audit Supervisor in Aruba. Aside from his regular Audit tasks, he was involved with numerous special purpose assessments, like fraud investigations, feasibility studies, and share valuation assessments. In 2001, Gerald joined a private holding company with a variety of retail and hospitality activities, engaged in the exploitation of furniture stores, clothing stores, shoe and apparel stores, several restaurants and the rental of real estate (commercial store units, long term residential houses and short term condominiums). For over 12 years, he served the Company in the position of Internal Financial Controller, whereby his tasks consisted of monitoring of the administrative organization, continuously improving procedures and internal control measures, periodic reporting of financial information and assisting the management with its strategic decision taking.
Gerald received a degree from the Nivra-Nijenrode School of Accountancy and Controlling in Breukelen. He also studied at the University of Aruba and University of Curacao (Adaptation Phase II- Administrative Organization). He has strong analytical skills and extensive experience in financial due diligence.
Vincent B. Solognier (Aruban) has over 22 years of leadership, corporate and operational experience gained at European and USA companies. He was responsible for operating the discount supermarkets for Albrecht Food Retail chain in the Netherlands. Here he was effective in the day-to-day operation; register controls, stock management, sales, marketing, cost management and staffing of the supermarkets. Thereafter, Vince collaborated more than 8 years at Marriott International Vacation Ownership companies in Aruba in the capacity of developing high performance workforces as Talent Development Manager. Here he developed and executed several operating procedures, coordinated the staffing and transition of the sold out Marriott’s Ocean Club to the new Marriott’s Surf Club project. Vince also prepared the start up project of Starwood Vacation Ownership in Aruba. He was responsible for the entire framework of policies and procedures and readiness of the entire customer acquisition department.
Most recently and for almost 10 years, Vince led the largest rental and auto lease company RentCar NV d.b.a. Hertz in Aruba as General Manager. Here he has shown to create and sustain a highly profitable rental and lease operation in a harsh competitive environment. He did this with the focus of being the leading quality contributor in the Aruba Tourism and Trade Industry as well as Government sector when it comes to short and long term mobility needs. He managed to train and coach his staff with newly developed effective sales strategies while maintaining the highest level of service. He also managed to juggle with the complexity of working with a 1100+ vehicle fleet consisting of multiple brands, maintenance, logistics, costs controls, vehicle replenishment challenges as well as conducting the needed financial analyses.
As the most recent team member at the Aruba Growth Fund, his broad field of expertise and entrepreneurial abilities will be mostly utilized in a position to advise and support management of the fund’s retail-focused portfolio companies not only with their strategic challenges, but also with their more day-to-day operational issues. Hence his diverse capabilities will be utilized to further grow, strengthen existing and develop existing and new retail investments.
Vince holds a B.A. in HRM from HAN University of Applied Sciences Arnhem & Nijmegen, The Netherlands. At Marriott and Hertz he has followed various management, authentic leadership and master class courses.
Jossy Laclé had a long and diverse career in engineering and industry. He started at the Lago Oil & Transport Co., a subsidiary of Exxon in 1972. From 1985 to 1990 he was Division Manager for Exxon Chemical in the Netherlands. From 1990 to 2010 he was the Managing Director of WEB NV in Aruba.
Jossy received Bachelors degrees in Mechanical Engineering (1971) and Business Economics (1972) from the Hogere Technische School in the Netherlands. He serves on the Boards of AZV, the Caribbean Mercantile Bank, AON Dutch Antilles and the Aruba Tourist Association, and in the past served as Chairman of the Board of Setar, President of the Aruba Trade and Industry Association and member of the Board of the Dr. Horacia Oduber Hospital.
Christopher Fiore has over 20 years of direct investing experience in emerging and developed economies. 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.
Jiefan Hsu has over 10 years of international corporate and structured finance experience, varying from fund structuring & placement, investment management activities, and financial advisory services in mergers and acquisitions. For Deloitte Corporate Finance she was the project manager for amongst others the divestment of Friesland Food's dairy business to Arla Foods (Denmark) and the successfully launched Westplan US real estate development fund of USD 250 million. In addition she was portfolio manager for NIB Capital for a structured credit portfolio of EUR 250 million and assisted with the set-up of risk management and portfolio management for the newly established Catamount Investment Group (US subsidiary of NIB). As an entrepreneur she gained experience with a Latin art gallery in Amsterdam and she is currently setting up her own financial advisory firm. At the moment she is teaching finance courses at the University of Aruba and acting as financial advisor to local financial institutions in the field of a.o. M&A, investments and valuations.
Jiefan Hsu has studied Technical Math at the University of Delft and holds a Master of Science degree in Financial Econometrics from the University of Amsterdam. At Deloitte she has followed various project management, authentic leadership, M&A, SPA negotiations, and valuation courses.