Arnerich and Chen: Now's the time to invest in green

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Tony Arnerich of Arnerich Massena, left, and Dave Chen of Equilibrium Capital spoke Friday about the growing global imperative for investing in sustainability.
Cathy Cheney | Portland Business Journal

Tony Arnerich of Arnerich Massena, left, and Dave Chen of Equilibrium Capital spoke Friday about the growing global imperative for investing in sustainability. View the gallery for some choice quotes. 

Imagine going back to 1986 and investing in Microsoft's initial public offering. That's the opportunity investors have when it comes to investing in green businesses.

Tony Arnerich and Dave Chen delivered the message as part of the keynote panel discussion at Friday's Sustainable Business Oregon awards luncheon.

Arnerich is CEO of Arnerich Massena, one of Oregon's largest investment advisers with nearly $17 billion in assets under management.

Chen is founder of Portland-based Equilibrium Capital Group LLC and has a long history in the region as a respected venture capitalist and economic strategist.

Sustainable Business Oregon profiled Arnerich's plans for investing in green businesses in September 2011. Since then, Chen and Arnerich said conversations have gone from the abstract to the concrete.


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One example: The Michigan Municipal Employees' Retirement System recent $180 million investment in a sustainable agriculture fund — The Equilibrium Capital-backed Australian Pastoral Funds Management — as an example of growing institutional investor interest in sustainability.

"We now have significant institutional backers," Arnerich said.

The problem: most of those backers are in Europe and Asia. The United States remains behind.

"The rest of the world gets it," Arnerich said.

Arnerich and Chen argued that investing in green business isn't about saving the planet.

"If you want to do philanthropy, write a check," Arnerich said.

The strategy is more of a demographic play. The world's population is around 7 billion people. By the end of the decade, that should exceed 10 billion.

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