It's an ideal match for several reasons. The Caisse is one of the biggest and most active investors in the Canadian venture capital scene, while Claridge, started by Mr. Bronfman's father Charles Bronfman, has been one of the largest foreign investors in the tiny, prosperous Middle Eastern state for years.
The new venture, to be called Claridge CDPQ Israel, will be based in Tel Aviv. It will be headed up by Israeli Oded Tal, who was Claridge's chief investment officer in Montreal from 2000 to 2008, and who more recently served as managing director and head of mergers and acquisitions for Israeli investment bank Leumi Partners. The venture will focus on investments in Israel's civil technology and innovation sectors, backing companies "with high growth potential that have succeeded in reaching the marketing stage," said Claridge CEO Pierre Boivin in a release.
The Caisse said in the release that its investment (whose amount was not disclosed) is part of its strategy to establish a presence "in high growth countries with partners who have an in-depth knowledge of the market." Ever mindful of the Caisse's mandate to foster Quebec economic development, the Caisse's vice-president of private equity and infrastructure, Andreas Beroutsos, said in a release the investments in Israel by the Caisse "can also give Quebec-based companies access to these innovative Israeli technologies, ultimately serving Quebec's economic development," though how it plans to do so was not disclosed. Perhaps they can get Quebec companies a Caisse discount on Israeli technology.
Israel, as any reader of the fascinating Start-up Nation: the Story of Israel's Economic Miracle will know, is one of the world's most successful breeding grounds for technology startups, and its thriving venture capital industry was a model for the Canadian government's $400-million Venture Capital Action Plan program. Last year a total of 12 Israeli VCs raised $914-million (U.S.), the largest fund tally in six years, according to IVC Research Centre, a market research firm specializing in the Israeli high tech, venture capital and private equity sectors. That mirrored a surge of dollars into the sector in Silicon Valley as well.