Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Investing Green Without Seeing Red

Washington, D.C. - Fifteen years ago, Jeffrey Leonard and a partner pulled together $5 million to found a private equity outfit, the Global Environment Fund, devoted to making money off environmentally friendly technologies. "We thought we were going to invest in replacing the internal combustion engine or the incandescent lightbulb," Leonard says.

At an investment conference here last month, Leonard showed just how far his thinking has evolved since 1990. To an audience of venture capitalists, company executives and government officials, the Global Environment Fund chief rattled off a few of his favorite deal-making areas: liquefied natural gas, clean diesel, nuclear power and clean coal. Hardly stuff to enthuse the average enviro.

Leonard says his remarks came with a measure of tongue-in-cheek but also a serious message on making venture bets in the "clean technology" category. "In this climate," he warns, "you want to be damn careful about what kind of technology you're going to invest in."

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