SUSI names co-CEOs as firm’s founder steps down – exclusive

After 10 years at the helm of the energy transition-focused firm he founded, Tobias Reichmuth will continue to provide strategic direction as chairman of the board.

Tobias Reichmuth will transition from CEO to chairman in January.

Tobias Reichmuth, founder and chief executive of Swiss infrastructure fund manager SUSI Partners for the past decade, is leaving his position as chief executive at the end of the year and will hand the reins over to two successors.

“He has seen his role more at the board level in the long run, specifically as chairman, and he has decided that the firm has reached a stage where this is now possible,” Marco van Daele, chief investment officer and one of Reichmuth’s successors, told Infrastructure Investor.

“This was always in the cards and given where the firm is now – given the growth options, the maturity of the firm – it is now the right time to make that step,” van Daele explained.

Current chairman Björn Bajan will assume the role of deputy.

Van Daele and Marius Dorfmeister, who joined the firm in October as global head of clients, will assume their new co-chief executive roles, in addition to their existing ones, on 1 January.

Asked what led to the firm adopting a co-CEO structure, Dorfmeister replied: “The board asked Marco and myself whether we felt this was a good solution going forward within the context of SUSI’s long-term growth plans. And we thought it was because on the illiquid side of the business especially there’s always a certain requirement to have a supply/demand match. That means that the communication between the two front units has to be really very close, very intense.

“But, in addition, I think it’s good to have a structure where employees can really rely on a broader management team, rather than focusing on one person,” Dorfmeister said, drawing on his experience at Zurich-based sustainable investment firm RobecoSAM, where he most recently served as co-CEO.

“The other positive aspect of this new co-structure is that it combines Marius’s extensive experience in the asset management industry with a client focus along with my internal knowledge of the firm itself,” added van Daele, who has served as the firm’s chief investment officer since joining the firm in September 2017.

Their co-CEO responsibilities will be divided along the lines of their existing roles, with van Daele continuing to be responsible for investments across the firm’s funds as well as managing assets post-acquisition. Dorfmeister will focus on client relations, marketing, communications and consultant relations associated with RFPs.

“While fundraising predominantly falls under my mandate, at a company like SUSI it’s really a team effort,” Dorfmeister explained. “This means the sales and investment teams must work together very closely.”

SUSI 2.0

As it enters its next phase of growth, SUSI will continue to operate on a global scale. “We’ve done an increasing number of international investments beyond Europe – both in North America and Australia – and we will continue to do that,” van Daele said. “All of that requires a certain scaling but also a review of how we operate effectively and efficiently. So, for me, that is certainly a priority, to ensure that on the investment side we continue to internationalise and continue to source opportunities for our clients.”

Founded in 2009, SUSI currently manages more than €1 billion in investor commitments across five funds focusing on clean energy generation, energy efficiency, energy storage and integrated energy solutions.

It is currently raising the SUSI Energy Efficiency Fund II, which will invest in North America and Europe and has a target size of €300 million. Last month, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank said it was looking to commit up to $50 million to SUSI’s Asia Energy Transition Fund, which will invest in South-East Asia. According to AIIB documents, SUSI is planning to reach a final close on $250 million by the third quarter of 2020.