For our October front cover story, Finance Monthly reached out to Joseph Pacini – the CEO and Co-Founder of XIO Group. He is responsible for the strategy and management of the global multibillion alternative investments and research. Headquartered in London, XIO Group also has operations in China, Hong Kong, Germany, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States.
XIO Group’s strategy is to identify and invest in market-leading and high-preforming businesses located across Europe and North America, and to help these companies in capitalizing on untapped opportunities in fast-growing markets, especially those in Asia. Here Joseph tells us more about it.
What have been the alternative investment trends in Hong Kong and globally in the past twelve months.
What we have seen is that there has been a tremendous amount of competition in the market for high-quality assets. To differentiate ourselves from our competitors, we have sought to uncover untapped opportunities and proprietary deals, in order to generate substantial returns for our investors.
What were XIO Group’s beginnings?
I had known Athene Li for many years from Asia and from when I was Head of Alternative Investments at BlackRock. Initially, we were planning to work together under the BlackRock Alternatives team, but after a variety of personal/firm decisions, we decided that it would be a great opportunity to set up our own firm with a specific strategy to invest in market-leading businesses and take them to Asia.
What considerations do you look at when identifying a business to invest in?
When we look at businesses, we want to have a market leader that is already dominant in their home market, but may not have achieved that globalization to the degree that they want. We then assist the company and help them grow. We can help them grow in many regions, whether that’s in North America, Europe or Asia. However, our particular expertise is in growth into China.
What challenges would you say you and XIO encounter on a regular basis? How are these resolved?
The challenges that we and XIO face on a regular basis are connected to the intense competition on the market. There’s also a misconception that we focus solely on Chinese companies, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, we do not invest in China at all; our growth opportunities are bringing companies from the West into global high-growth markets – and specifically China.
How does your experience in alternative investments inform your decision-making strategy at XIO Group?
Having worked at large firms previously, such as Bain Capital, JP Morgan and Blackrock, I understood how large institutional players assess and go after certain markets for alternative investments, so this has given me a great foundation. However, I think running your own firm is very different, as you are an entrepreneur as well and it forces you to be “scrappy”. Effectively, you fight harder when it is your own firm because you own your destiny – whether it be success or failure.
As CEO, how do you ensure you are directing the company in the correct direction? How do you advise your team to make the correct decisions for the company?
I would simply state that as CEO, my job is to set broad goals and principals, and then allow my team to work within our framework to achieve those objectives. For example, looking at where we want to diversify our business, how we want to grow our platform, the types of businesses we look for and how we build out our portfolio – these are the strategic areas I focus on. For other decisions, we allow that to be done more on a deal team basis. I look to give our colleagues the knowledge and responsibility, as well as opportunity to bring forward their ideas on what a good investment platform would be. With that also comes the accountability.
What does a typical day look like for you? What daily challenges do you encounter and how do you overcome them?
I tend to be travelling for 2 weeks of the month but my days are similar. I start with calls to Asia for the first few hours, then I deal with meetings in the UK and in the afternoon, and then I deal with calls back to the USA. My time is divided between approximately a third spent on client type of items, a third on existing portfolios and a third on new and potential investment opportunities.
The main challenge as a CEO is how to prioritise. You have to take in a lot of information and really prioritise what’s the most important thing that only you can deal with at that time and then delegate the remaining tasks to others.
What are your strategic goals and vision for XIO’s future?
Our goal is to continue to grow out our platform, at first in private equity. Our long-term objectives are related to eventually diversifying into other alternative assets classes, similarly to how I have done it at other firms and overtime, really build a diversified alternative investments platform.
XIO Group is a global multi-billion dollar alternative investments firm headquartered in London, United Kingdom. XIO Group’s strategy is to identify and invest in market-leading and high-performing businesses located across Europe and North America and to partner with management to help these companies in capitalizing on untapped opportunities in fast growing markets, particularly those in Asia. XIO Group has operations in the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Israel, Hong Kong, Mainland China and the United States of America.
About Joseph Pacini
Joseph Pacini is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of XIO Group. Prior to XIO Group, Joseph was Managing Director and Head of BlackRock Alternative Investors (BAI) for Asia Pacific. Based in Hong Kong, Mr. Pacini was responsible for developing client-focused alternative investment strategies as well as the continued growth of BlackRock’s USD $24 billion alternatives platform and product offering in Asia.
Prior to joining BlackRock in 2012, Joseph was the Head of JP Morgan Alternative Investments Group in Asia. In that capacity, Mr. Pacini’s responsibilities included the business development, origination, due diligence and structuring of hedge fund, private equity, real estate and direct deal opportunities for its USD$10 billion platform.
Before moving to Asia, Mr. Pacini was a member of the JP Morgan Private Bank Alternative Investments Due Diligence Team based in New York. Prior to joining JP Morgan in 2003, Joseph was an Analyst at the private equity firm Bain Capital, LLC. in London, England.
Joseph received a Bachelor of Science in International Business from Brigham Young University where he graduated with University Honours.