Mark Florman : « MIC will be part of the Sovereign Wealth Fund Community »

La Mauritius Investment Corporation (MIC) se positionne pour devenir un fonds souverain en vue de s’engager dans la diversification de l’économie mauricienne et, en se concentrant sur le capital-risque, le capital privé et les marchés privés, offrir des opportunités pour de nouveaux secteurs/industries et de nouvelles opportunités pour le peuple mauricien.
Pour Mark Florman, Chairman de la MIC, Maurice est un pays respecté et un centre financier international réputé.

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« Cela implique que Maurice peut attirer des capitaux dans le pays, mobiliser des capitaux mondiaux à travers le monde et canaliser les capitaux indispensables de Maurice vers le reste de l’Afrique. Ceci est essentiel pour la croissance à long terme de l’Afrique et la capacité des entreprises à travers le continent à prospérer dans une juridiction sûre, fiable et respectueuse de l’état de droite », affirme-t-il.

Il souligne que parmi les autres fonds souverains et autres institutions de financement du développement telles que British International Investment, Proparco en France et DEG en Allemagne, la République de Maurice est considérée comme un partenaire privilégié et de confiance pour les investissements africains. Nous publions son interview en anglais.

Mark Florman, as the chairman of Mauritius Investment Corporation since July 2021, can you comment on the direction of the corporation?

The MIC is going to be three years old. Our mission is to build a Sovereign Wealth Fund to invest in the diversification of the Mauritian economy and, by focusing on venture capital, private capital and private markets, to provide opportunities for new sectors/industries and for new opportunities for the people of Mauritius.
Mauritius is a respected country and a reputed international global financial centre. This implies that Mauritius can attract capital to the country, mobilize global capital across the world, and channel much-needed capital from Mauritius into the rest of Africa. This is critical to Africa’s long-term growth, and the ability of businesses across the continent to flourish in a jurisdiction which is safe, trusted, and abides by the rule of law. Among the other Sovereign Wealth Funds and other development financing institutions (such as British International Investment, Proparco in France, and DEG in Germany) Mauritius is considered a preferred and trusted partner for African investments.

How did the country come up with the idea of creating a Sovereign Wealth Fund?

The country is at a unique moment. I first came here 20 years ago to speak at a conference about the future of investment in Africa attended by Ministers of Finance from many African nations. I spoke about the power of venture capital and private equity to build enterprises, take new risks, attract and mobilize capital from abroad. Even then, it was clear that Mauritius was a strong financial leader.

The MIC will soon be implementing a new set of investment procedures. This will allow us to invest strategically in those businesses and funds which will create value for Mauritius but also for the rest of Africa and the Indian subcontinent. We will contribute to the positioning of Mauritius as the international financial capital of Africa. A further priority is to attract new enterprises to come to Mauritius to increase the diversity of the economy.
We have been engaging with companies with appetite to move here in healthcare, technology and early-stage research in life sciences. We also want to help, along with other partners across the country, to use our investment skills to help people open local businesses.

We expect that these businesses will be fully developed, that they employ people fairly, and have good talent development programs so that they will create a strong local economy with highly skilled labour force to benefit Mauritius in the long term.

Will sustainable development be part of your mission?

Yes absolutely, Mauritius has an opportunity to be an environmental leader. We have the opportunity to invest in solar and wind energy here and to show countries across Africa that renewable companies have a huge opportunity to establish themselves in Mauritius.
Developing local talent is also part of this sustainable mission, as is making sure the way companies are developed is sympathetic to the environment. This is most important in relation to the supply chain, which includes everything from how you source, purchase, manufacturing processes, and employment practices.

Employment practices are a crucial but less understood part of the sustainability mission; the Bank of Mauritius has been inspirational in its leadership here – through that leadership, we have been able to save thousands of jobs in the crisis. A job is not just a job, it is worth much more. The impact of losing a job is a lifetime issue which affects families, communities and entire economies.
The MIC acted swiftly to save thousands of jobs during the Covid-19 crisis, and many businesses are now flourishing as a result.

What are the priority sectors in which MIC intends to invest?

The next stage of our development is to ensure that we can invest in the critical instruments that fuel the Mauritian economy’s further development and allow us to diversify our investments in new directions. We must invest in industries that are consistent with the overall long-term economic plan. We are looking at multiple international investment propositions, from companies that want to relocate here, as well as local companies wanting to invest and expand, and looking for expert advice. The end result will be a more diverse economy that spans a number of different industries such as light manufacturing, pharmaceutical, healthcare and medical equipment, as well as financial services and financial technology. This is where Mauritius can naturally compete.
We are also looking to support critical infrastructure. For example, our investment in Airport Holdings Limited, and the businesses around the airport. We are promoting Mauritius as a destination, not just for tourism but for residency and the headquarters of your company. Visitors can come here aboard Air Mauritius, and at the same time, offset their travel footprint by participating in our thriving green economy. To encourage international investment here we must ensure that our port, as well as the airport, are working well and that the critical infrastructure, including energy supply, is performing.

To operate like a Sovereign Wealth Fund, do you operate independently from the Bank of Mauritius?

We are owned by the Bank of Mauritius, but we operate as an independent business. We have a separate board and independent investment committee. We are building an independent strategy to show that the MIC can be a part of the Mauritian economy. We want to be here for many years, for the next generation. When we look back, we will be able to say that the young people of Mauritius today saw the Sovereign Wealth Fund as crucial to building their economy and their enterprises. For that, we need independent thinking, and we need to be responsive to venture capital and the ability to take risks.
The model we are following is based on the best Sovereign Wealth Funds in the world. We have looked at how they work in Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Nigeria and Norway. We studied how they positioned strategies in support of their citizens – achieved first by investing in critical infrastructure and then investing in the future economy. It is a focus on infrastructure with a long-term forward view that makes everything work.

Since when have you been working as a Sovereign Wealth Fund?

Generally, across the world, our international partners refer to us as a Sovereign Wealth Fund. We became one of the newest associate members of the International Forum Sovereign Wealth Fund Association six months ago. Now we are working towards achieving full membership. Through this membership, the MIC will be part of the Sovereign Wealth Fund community, therefore demonstrating its commitment and willingness to uphold the Santiago Principles based on good governance, accountability, and transparency. This gives us excellent connections with global Sovereign Wealth Funds. We will work with these countries to position Mauritius as the centre of Africa. We are arguing that if someone wants to invest in Africa, they can come to Mauritius, and access our trusted expertise as well as our investment skills. Recently I spoke at a conference organized by British International Investment (BII). I spoke about Mauritius as a transparent destination where people can establish their funds, headquarters, and operations.

The IMF has been suggesting the MIC operate with greater independence, what do you think about this?

We were created during an unseen crisis when it was central to have the leadership from the Bank of Mauritius. We do run independently. We have a very good relationship with the World Bank Group, the World Bank itself and the International Monetary Fund. We also listen very carefully. We ensure that we abide by international best practices and governance structures.

Carl Alan Mark Florman

Born on the 2nd November 1958 Mark Florman is a British businessman and entrepreneur. He is a co-founder and former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the merchant banking group, Maizels, Westerberg & Co. and Time Partners Limited. Florman led the review of governance for UK public bodies in 2021.

Florman was educated at Harrow before attending the London School of Economics.
In 1992, Florman was co-founder and later CEO of Maizels, Westerberg & Co.
In 2009, Florman co-founded 8Miles, an African private equity firm, with Bob Geldof and Kofi Annan.

In 2013, Mark Florman co-founded the investment and corporate advisory firm Time Partners. A stated aim of the company is to create a virtuous circle between the way in which a company is run, its ability to attract capital and its service to the broader community.

On 20 March 2015, Mark Florman was appointed to the BBC Trust. Florman’s term began on 1 April 2015 and ended in April 2017. In 2018, he was appointed as a non-executive director of the Home Office.

In 2021, he became Chair of the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Mauritius, the Mauritius Investment Corporation (MIC).

In February 2016, Mark Florman in conjunction with Dr Robyn Klingler-Vidra, King’s College London and LSE Enterprise with Mr Maritim Jacinto Facada; created the External Rate of Return (ERR), an inclusive, transparency index for measuring the overall impact of business activities upon the economy and society in general.

Florman co-founded the UK social justice and poverty think tank Centre for Social Justice in 2004 alongside Iain Duncan Smith, Tim Montgomerie and Philippa Stroud.
He is life Ambassador to the Centre for Social Justice and Florman is a Distinguished Fellow at INSEAD Global Private Equity Initiative, a Visiting Senior Fellow at the London School of Economics and a Visiting Professor at the Policy Institute King’s College London.
He is currently the chairman of Mauritius Investment Corporation.

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