A businessman who made his fortune in foreign-currency ex-change is looking for new investments in Newfoundland and Lab-rador.
Peter Gustavson, Winnipeg-born and Victoria-based, founded Custom House Currency Exchange in 1992 and sold it 17 years later for $370 million to Western Union.
Gustavson Capital, his new private equity investment firm, is hunting for new Canadian investments, and he says he’s drawn to Newfoundland and Labrador’s resource sector.
Strong background in marine industries
“We’re located in Victoria, which is obviously on the other side of the country, but we have a strong background in the marine industries, and as well done a lot of investing in the oilpatch in Alberta,” he said this week.
“Both of those industries are significant in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“Because those industries are prominent in the province and we do have a background and good expertise in those industries, so that’s a good starting point. But we don’t want to exclude someone if they’ve got an interesting entrepreneurial venture that they’re looking for investment in Newfoundland. We’d certainly have a look at it,” Gustavson said.
A lot of private-equity firms are looking in “hot spots” like Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, he said, but he wants to look further afield.
“We’re finding some really interesting ventures outside the big centres, and some of them have got a lot of promise and some really good operators, and what they’re missing is the expansion capital to grow their business,” he said, adding his work building Custom House made him sympathetic to small firms hoping to attract investors.
“In my prior career, we ended up the second-largest non-bank foreign exchange company in sleepy Victoria, and we had a lot of trouble trying to attract venture capital, private equity, actually, and we had to go all the way to Boston to find it.”
Gustavson is inviting companies to get in touch with Gustavson Capital, but warns he’s not an angel investor for a firm just trying to get off the ground. “They’re going to have an established business, they’re going to have growing revenue, they’re going to be at or near break-even. They’ve got a business that isn’t quite bankable but with some capital can grow quite significantly,” he said.