Dr Stavros Siokos is the Managing Partner of Astarte Capital Partners - a specialist alternative co-investment platform with a focus on the real assets space. The company, whose team is spread between London, NYC, Zurich and Sydney, identifies and partners with experienced real asset operators, establishing institutional standard specialist asset management businesses in niche real asset strategies that target private equity-type returns. Astarte’s team combines their experience of building multi-billion niche asset management businesses with the know-how of established real asset operators with strong track record in the specific sector. Astarte’s target is full alignment of interests and transparency with only success-based fees. Here Dr Siokos talked to Finance Monthly about the future of international finance and Astarte’s beginnings, achievements and goals for the future.
How did your career path lead you to your current role as a Managing Partner at Astarte Capital Partners?
I was originally educated as a Computer engineer. My first two degrees were pure Computer Engineering while my Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts focused more on Financial Engineering. Structured approach to the solution of any problem was the best skill that my education gave me. My non-academic career started as a quantitative analyst at Salomon Brothers (later Citigroup) in the mid-nineties. I quickly became managing director, responsible for the global portfolio trading strategies and all pension fund solutions. This period of my career was the best education that I ever received.
My career on the sell side lasted for almost fifteen years. Before the crisis, I decided to move to the buy side, recognizing that the sell side was ready to move into a different stage where entrepreneurship was to be challenged. Later on, I became the CEO of a small boutique asset management firm where, together with the team, we managed to build innovative alternative investment platforms and grow the assets exponentially – from a few hundred million to several billion within a few years. All the above was achieved by raising long term capital from global institutional investors. In early 2015, we decided to create a new platform, based on an innovative and disruptive model. We managed to establish this ambitious plan within a few months.
As a co-founder of Astarte, how did the idea about the company come about?
As an entrepreneur, I am constantly trying to expand my horizons. Our initial goal with Astarte was to create something that was fairer to the investors and will have a significant impact in the world of investing. We were eager to bring together the best professionals under an umbrella of full alignment and transparency. For a number of months, we worked on identifying the optimal team and the fairest structure for coinvestments, and the outcome of this hard work was Astarte.
What have been the company’s biggest achievements in the past two years?
For a newly established firm, no matter how experienced the team is, the first couple of years are very challenging. I’d say that our first big achievement is managing to stay on track, since building an innovative and disruptive business in a highly competitive environment is a challenge. However, we managed to launch the firm by simultaneously attracting top talent, long term capital and excellent deal flow, which I think are the key components of any asset management business. Currently, I’m delighted to say that we are in a position where all the important ingredients are in place.
What is your vision for the future of Astarte? What do you hope to accomplish in the next three years?
Our aim, although quite ambitious, is to establish Astarte as one of the leading co-investment platforms for niche real assets. We hope to see private capital working smarter and fairer in the future, with Astarte playing a significant role on this.
What is your brief outlook on the future of international finance?
We are living in an ever-increasing regulated environment where restrictions and regulations are creating a very controlled environment that supports large firms and kills entrepreneurship. Margins are shrinking and opportunities are reduced. Thus, it is my belief that in a decade the asset management market will only consist of huge players and a limited number of niche strategy participants.