Oleg Jelesko: Portfolio of Achievements at Da Vinci Capital Management

Oleg Jelesko

Oleg Jelesko, the founder of Da Vinci Capital, stands out as a seasoned figure in the realm of alternative investments. With a track record of notable achievements, including key roles in substantial M&A transactions, he established the firm amid global financial turmoil, guiding it to prosperity.

His strategic insight and deep market acumen enabled him to leverage distinct prospects, navigating his enterprise through an era of economic adversity.

Under the guidance of Oleg Jelesko, Da Vinci Capital has been identified with pioneering, durability, and methodical expansion. This approach has involved a keen emphasis on long-term value generation for its benefactors. Oleg Jelesko brought foresight that was not just about weathering the storm; it was about reshaping the functions of private equity and venture capital within the evolving worldwide economy, pioneering innovative benchmarks in investment methodology.


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Oleg Jelesko: Early Professional Milestones

Oleg Jelesko, who would eventually make a name for himself at Renaissance Capital and as the founder of his own venture in 2007, began his career in 1992 as an adviser at Andersen Consulting, securing his position promptly upon graduating from the Mendeleev Institute of Chemical Technology. During his time at the Institute, the future financier also spent studying at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania as part of an exchange program that offered him a six-month deep dive into economics, computer programming, and higher mathematics. This two-pronged educational experience, both at home and abroad, prove to be a major selling point in his search for employment.

It was in the city of London that Oleg Jelesko began to cultivate his professional skill set, contributing to software implementation initiatives, marking the practical inception of his career in the financial domain.

Oleg Jelesko: Progression in Financial Management

Subsequently, Oleg Jelesko secured a position at the esteemed McKinsey & Company, where, alongside his professional duties, he completed an MBA course. During his tenure, he managed a range of projects both in the Czech Republic and in his home country. Oleg Jelesko recounts that his tenure at McKinsey was intrinsically connected to the financial sector.

Two years thereafter, Oleg Jelesko transitioned into investment banking, joining Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB). His tenure at CSFB was marked by a broad spectrum of responsibilities, appealing to his multifaceted interests in the financial field. As Vice President, he was not confined to any singular focus area, like sales, trading, or analysis; instead, Oleg Jelesko contributed to the comprehensive growth of the business.

It was at CSFB that Oleg Jelesko became familiar with complex financial instruments, which typically involve an array of securities, deposits, derivatives, and stocks—often beyond the direct reach of private investors. Such financial products are designed to distribute risk adequately and enhance the potential for returns.

During his time at CSFB, Oleg Jelesko witnessed first-hand two major economic disturbances: the 1998 financial crisis in the RF and the Dot-com bubble burst in 2001. The latter event, characterized by an unwarranted exuberance among investors, led to bloated valuations of tech startups, culminating in the NASDAQ index plummeting and numerous high-tech companies folding.

These pivotal events shaped how Oleg Jelesko approaches business. At Da Vinci Capital, the investment firm he launched in 2007, a prudent stance is adopted when engaging with companies of the “new economy.” The firm’s analysts diligently evaluate the actual profit-generating potential of projects, steering clear of the baseless enthusiasm often propelled by aggressive marketing strategies.

Oleg Jelesko: Strategic Leadership at Renaissance Capital

Having garnered six years of experience in investment banking, Oleg Jelesko was prepared to venture into his own direct investment enterprise. Yet, he opted for an unexpected change in direction by joining Renaissance Capital for a three-year tenure. Oleg Jelesko reflected on this pivot, crediting Stephen Jennings, the CEO at the time, for his convincing pitch.

In his role at Renaissance Capital, akin to that of a partner, Oleg Jelesko was instrumental in the creation and introduction of new structured financial products. These offerings were designed to entice capital holders with their novel approach to generating high returns and mitigating risks.

During his time there, Oleg Jelesko also contributed to revising the operational standards of the pre-IPO fund. Commonly, such funds provide investors access to rapidly growing, yet-to-be-public high-tech firms that already possess traits of publicly traded entities, with the investments generally viewed as long-term commitments.

In a departure from typical pre-IPO funds, Renaissance Capital, the tenure of during Oleg Jelesko, permitted its participants to liquidate their stakes in the over-the-counter market, thus shortening the investment life cycle and enabling more assertive, concentrated capital allocations. Oleg Jelesko assimilated this bold strategy into his own ventures, and under his guidance, Da Vinci Capital later retained the core pre-IPO investment strategy while integrating additional benefits.

His achievements from this era also include spearheading the creation of specialized funds targeting the financial services and energy sectors. In 2005, Oleg Jelesko oversaw the establishment of Renaissance Online, a platform for electronic trading of securities.

Adhering to the competitive maxim of “grow or get out,” most prevalent in investment circles, Oleg Jelesko consistently reached new heights, culminating in the launch of his own firm in 2007. The inaugural fund of his company, Da Vinci Capital, was christened the CIS Private Sector Growth Fund, marking a milestone as the first in the businessman’s portfolio.

Oleg Jelesko – Da Vinci Capital Management: The Start of His Own Venture

With the inception of Da Vinci Capital, Oleg Jelesko aimed to craft a strategic response to the U.S. mortgage crisis, recognizing its potential global repercussions. He understood the importance of introducing innovative solutions in a tumultuous market climate.

Oleg Jelesko was meticulous in curating a team of managers for Da Vinci Capital, prioritizing those with proven expertise and solid performance histories. Nevertheless, his primary concentration was the quality and distinction of the fund’s offerings.

As Oleg Jelesko later reported, Da Vinci Capital Fund distinguished itself by becoming the first entity to have its shares traded on the London Stock Exchange’s novel exchange platform, the Specialist Fund Market. The fund was prepared for entry into the SFM in April 2008, achieving its listing the following month.

To align with its strategic objectives, Da Vinci Capital pursued registration in Guernsey, an established locus for investment funds seeking entry to the London Stock Exchange and other European trading platforms. Oleg Jelesko acknowledged the complexity of this legal undertaking, noting that securing the asset management license was a demanding process that took approximately four and a half months.

This tactical decision was designed to augment the fund’s appeal to principal investors. The platform that listed the shares of the CIS Private Sector Growth Fund allowed investors to liquidate their positions at will, thus significantly reducing the potential for capital loss, according to the strategy crafted by Oleg Jelesko.

Oleg Jelesko: Tactical Investments at Da Vinci Capital

Identifying private enterprises primed for exponential growth and equipped with global aspirations is a skill that Oleg Jelesko has honed for many years. Da Vinci Capital currently oversees assets surpassing the half-billion-dollar mark, with significant international entities from the financial and other sectors counted among its investors.

The companies within Da Vinci Capital’s investment portfolio demonstrate an average annual expansion of 20-30%, a testament to the effective management tactics implemented by Oleg Jelesko. Under his stewardship, the fund typically acquires minority interests in firms, incrementally bolstering these investments until they secure a position on the companies’ Boards of Directors.

This strategy enables the team under Oleg Jelesko to actively participate in the enterprises’ operational management, optimizing business performance to align with their investment approach. In certain scenarios, the fund undertakes measures leading to an Initial Public Offering (IPO). Alternatively, they may enhance their stake to a controlling interest, eventually divesting to a strategic buyer. Often, such buyers are larger corporations within the same industry, providing a mutually advantageous merger or acquisition opportunity for fund investors to realize returns prior to a public offering.

Oleg Jelesko often recounts the strategic acquisition of shares in the nation’s trading system (JSC RTS) as a pivotal move for his team. Initially holding multiple smaller shares, Oleg Jelesko-Da Vinci Capital successfully accumulated a 2% stake in the exchange.

With the growing impact of the project, Oleg Jelesko was appointed CEO of the exchange. His team was instrumental in orchestrating the exchange’s merger with MICEX, a long-envisioned union that came to fruition through skilled negotiations with seasoned brokers. This $1.2 billion merger resulted in the establishment of the capital’s unified stock exchange.

The financial community acknowledges the merger’s significant role in expanding opportunities for domestic market participants. Industry specialists have noted that the consolidation under Da Vinci Capital’s leadership not only enhanced the credibility of the local exchange among investors but also averted a potential liquidity crunch that loomed with the retreat of foreign capital in subsequent years. In 2013, the market valuation of the unified trading platform soared, at that time worth over half a billion dollars. The IPO of the exchange, a key milestone, was also facilitated and executed by Oleg Jelesko and his company.

Oleg Jelesko: Investment Criteria at Da Vinci Capital (Fintech, E-commerce and More)

In delineating Da Vinci Capital’s investment approach, Oleg Jelesko emphasizes the firm’s focus on ventures poised for a public offering via IPO. The evaluative process concentrates on a prospective asset’s business model and its prospects for becoming a “unicorn,” a term in the investment world for startups valued at $1 billion within a decade of their inception.

Oleg Jelesko observes that the rise of new technologies fuels the creation of such high-value projects, a trend he anticipates will continue. These “unicorns” are often found in sectors like FinTech, e-commerce, and others that incorporate artificial intelligence into their operations. Geographically, such companies are emerging in diverse locations, from Malaysia to Chile to Senegal and Argentina.

Leveraging over 30 years of investment experience, Oleg Jelesko prioritizes projects for their quality. Preference is given to debt-free companies, followed by a rigorous activity analysis to ensure alignment with Da Vinci Capital’s standards. Only after this thorough review is a decision made on whether to invest.

The methodology used by Oleg Jelesko-Da Vinci Capital culminated in several notable investment triumphs, particularly highlighted by the acquisition of a stake in EPAM Systems in 2008. This high-tech company benefitted from Da Vinci Capital’s substantial investment of $18.6 million, aimed at garnering a considerable portion of the company’s equity.

The following year, Oleg Jelesko transitioned to a key executive role within EPAM Systems, providing crucial direction for the company’s strategic development plans. His advocacy for accessing public markets and driving financial growth was critical in preparing EPAM Systems for its IPO. Oleg Jelesko rallied the support of fellow shareholders, laying the groundwork for the company’s debut on the stock exchange.

With meticulous preparation, the public offering of EPAM Systems’ securities was carried out on the New York Stock Exchange in February 2012, achieving a remarkable initial valuation of $488 million. The success of this IPO was just the beginning, as the company’s market value escalated significantly, ultimately reaching a capitalization of $37 billion, marking a notable chapter in Da Vinci Capital’s history.

In the international IT sector, Oleg Jelesko showed discernment through his involvement with a key industry entity—Softline. In 2016, Da Vinci Capital mobilized its extensive network to engage partners aligned with their strategic outlook. This collective investment initiative injected significant funds into the information technology solutions and services firm, with Da Vinci Capital contributing around $20 million, a sum matched by their investment allies. This action reflected Da Vinci Capital’s core investment principles, emphasizing their dedication to nurturing progress and ingenuity within the tech industry.

Oleg Jelesko joined Softline’s board in 2017 and developed an M&A strategy integral to its future growth. Under his guidance, Softline launched an IPO on the London Stock Exchange. His influence further extended to enhancing the company’s governance, broadening market reach, and recruiting a competent management team. These efforts were met with success, with a remarkable turnover growth in revenue from $741 million in 2015 to an impressive $2.2 billion by 2021.

Oleg Jelesko is actively involved in the oversight of Da Vinci Capital’s funds through its investment committees and continues to hold board positions in select companies within the investment portfolio. His active participation ensures the sustained success and adherence to the established investment philosophy. His governance roles include significant positions with the ITI Group and the Luxembourg-based ITI Funds.

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Oleg Jelesko: Portfolio of Achievements at Da Vinci Capital Management