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Teresa Barger, the world’s emerging markets activist investor

posted onAugust 26, 2017

Teresa Barger is the CEO and Co-Founder of Washington, D.C.-based Cartica Capital. She launched Cartica in 2008 with three cofounders--Farida Khambata, Steven Quamme and Mike Lubrano (formerly executives of the International Finance Corporation). Cartica is an hedge fund specializing in “active ownership” investing in emerging markets companies The firm had $3.0 billion of assets under management as of June 30, 2017.

“It’s a cliché to say but it’s a private equity approach to public equity,” Barger told Barron’s Asia. “We love misunderstood companies”, “Cartica companies” she said, referring to companies usually controlled by founding families, with low debt and excellent management. The fund’s approach is simple: “It’s going in and making money by fixing things that are not perfect.”

“We don’t know a nano-fraction of what they know about their company. But sometimes people are really busy running the business and it takes an outsider to come in,” she believes. “All we’re doing is telling them we see things that they can’t.” Ms Barger explained.

Cartica Capital
Cartica Capital

Before founding Cartica, Barger spent two decades at the International Finance Corporation funding businesses in nearly every region of the emerging markets. IFC invests exclusively in private sector companies in the emerging markets and is often known as “the private sector investing arm of the World Bank Group.”

She also created the innovative Gemloc bond fund, index and market development program for local currency bonds. Prior to that, Ms. Barger set up the Private Equity and Investment Funds Department of IFC. As Director of this Department, Ms. Barger managed the largest portfolio of Emerging Markets investment funds in the world. She pioneered the creation of the first benchmarks for Emerging Markets private equity and co-founded the Emerging Markets Private Equity Association (EMPEA). Ms. Barger also developed the first two corporate governance funds in the Emerging Markets, for Korea and Brazil.

Before joining IFC, Ms. Barger was with McKinsey & Company, working in New York, London and Tokyo.

She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves on the boards of the Emerging Markets Private Equity Association, ANERA and the Gazelle Fund (an SME fund for Eurasia). She also serves on the Private Sector Advisory Group of the Global Corporate Governance Forum and the Pacific Pension Institute Advisory Council.

Ms. Barger received an M.B.A. from the Yale School of Management, received an A.B. Magna Cum Laude from Harvard College in 2008. She did post-graduate work in Arabic at the American University in Cairo. She was born and raised in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia where her father was with the first team that discovered oil in the Kingdom. She speaks French and Arabic and reads Spanish.