Legatum and Omidyar Network Invest USD 40 Million as Co-Anchors of Unitus

May 2008
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, New York, and Redwood City, United States, May, 13 2008 - Legatum and Omidyar Network announced today a USD 40 million co-investment in Unitus Equity Fund II (UEF II).

Each firm will invest USD 20 million in the fund, which is led by the team behind one of the most successful microfinance private equity funds to date, Unitus Equity Fund I (UEF I). Like its predecessor, UEF II will provide capital to growth-oriented MFIs that are run by visionary, entrepreneurial leaders. In addition, UEF II will expand the focus of UEF I by investing in companies offering products and services that enable the world's poor to create opportunities for themselves and their communities.

"The microfinance industry is at a tipping point. With the application of patient, long-term capital from investors, we believe it is possible to accelerate the roll out of low cost credit to the world's poor. This has the potential to enable millions of people to lift themselves out of poverty," commented Philip Vassiliou, Managing Director of Legatum. "This joint investment with Omidyar Network reflects our shared belief that enterprise offers one of the best long term solutions to poverty. Our co-investment in the Unitus Equity Fund II reflects Legatum's confidence in its management team, who have a proven track record of success investing in MFIs around the globe."

Both Legatum and Omidyar Network are furthering their commitment to microfinance with their coinvestment in UEF II. Legatum, a private firm that invests in global capital markets and initiatives that support social development, made investments in 2007 in SHARE Microfin Limited, Financial Information Network & Operations Ltd. (FINO), A.Little.World, and Intellecap, which all work to extend financial access to the poor. Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm, has committed USD $83 million in investments and grants to increase access to microfinance services since 2004. In April 2008, Omidyar Network provided a three year, USD $9 million expansion grant to Unitus, the non-profit organization that launched UEF I.

Noting Omidyar Network's continued commitment to the Unitus Equity Fund, Jim Bunch, Director of Investments, said, "UEF I has demonstrated that microfinance institutions can scale rapidly, significantly impact the lives of borrowers, and deliver commercial returns to investors. We are excited to work with Legatum and UEF II to create opportunities for people to improve their lives and contribute to their families and communities."

Chris Brookfield, Managing Director of UEF II added, "This investment from Legatum and Omidyar Network demonstrates that some of the world's most successful investors find value backing entrepreneurs focused on the poor in developing countries. We are delighted to have this support."

Source : PR Newswire

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