Jul 30 2009

Bookbinder Capital Goes Green With TerraVerde

By kyle stock

Call it green shoots.

Clean technology and other "green" industries are being pitched as recession-proof -- like healthcare or energy.

The latest seed: Bookbinder Capital Management LLC, a New York-based fund of hedge funds, which just launched a "green" offering dubbed TerraVerde Capital Management LLC. Data on hedge funds is always spotty (and largely self-reported), but at least one trade publication has called the investing pool one of the first of its kind in the U.S., although there is no shortage of environmentally focused mutual funds and exchange-traded funds.

Richard Bookbinder, who founded the self-named firm in 1999, said his company has been researching "the green space" for about two years.

"I don't wear Birkenstocks; I didn't go to Woodstock; and I haven't bought a Prius," Bookbinder said. "I am a financial service professional and I think that there is a tremendous financial opportunity here, in addition to a tremendous environmental opportunity."

The first step in the process was defining "green." Bookbinder and co. settled on any business that reduces a carbon footprint, a designation that comprises trading in water, carbon and weather derivatives, among other things.

Bookbinder's announcement comes just a few weeks after a similar launch: Greentech Capital Advisors, an investment bank focusing on the so-called green economy. Greentech Capital is the brainchild of Jeff McDermott, former global head of investment banking at UBS AG.

The downside is that Bookbinder isn't hiring, but harvesting some expertise in green energy, carbon markets or even environmental nonprofits is probably a savvy move.

McDermott, Bookbinder and others going green cite a number of factors in their favor: a strengthening economy, heaps of venture capital and private-equity cash on the sidelines, a tide of stimulus dollars going into renewable energy, a rash of environmental initiatives in China and India, an increase in nonprofits investing with an environmental bent and the price of light, sweet crude bubbling up once again.

Bookbinder also noted that there will also be no shortage of ripe short opportunities in the industry over the next few years.

All good arguments. Time will tell if the business takes root.

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