The investment firm for one of the world’s biggest retail fortunes is boosting its private equity bets after stepping back from public markets. David Sainsbury, whose great-grandfather founded supermarket chain J Sainsbury Plc, plans to put as much as 253 million pounds ($337 million) into private equity funds through his family office, Innotech Advisers, according to a U.K. registry filing.
The London-based firm already had more than 400 million pounds allocated to managed funds in the sector at the end of last year, when its investments had a market value of 1.1 billion pounds, the filing showed.
Sainsbury, 81, is increasingly investing in private markets after his family office divested from the U.K.’s second-largest grocer, which has lost almost a third of its value over the past two decades.
Innotech was still a major shareholder in the London-based food retailer in 2011 with a 5% stake worth about 270 million pounds, but the firm sold all of its shares by the end of 2018, filings show. Innotech’s investments in private equity funds increased during the same period by more than 40%.
Innotech “remains in a strong position to take advantage of any suitable investment opportunities,” the firm said in its recently filed 2020 accounts.
A representative for Sainsbury, who helped lead the listing of his family’s business on the London Stock Exchange in 1973, declined to comment.
Private equity is a favored asset class for family offices, the closely held firms that manage the financial affairs of the ultra-rich. More than 50% of 191 family offices surveyed this year by UBS Group AG see the sector as a way of accessing exclusive bets, while alternative-investment firms are increasingly looking to them to boost their private equity, real estate and credit funds.
Sainsbury worked at his family’s namesake business for more than two decades and served as its chairman before he stepped down in 1998 to pursue a career in politics. He’s also University of Cambridge’s chancellor and one of the U.K.’s biggest philanthropists, with his charitable foundation giving more than 1 billion pounds to causes including neuroscience, education and the arts.