Darby Establishes New LatAm Firm –

If Latin America is ripe for wireless technology investment, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady and his Darby Overseas Investments Ltd. want to take part in the harvest.

Darby Overseas Investments recently launched a new private equity investment and advisory company specializing in technology companies in Latin America. Called Darby Technology Ventures Group, the firm will partner with IBM, Comcast Interactive Capital and Franklin Resources Inc., among others, in launching its funds.

Darby Technology Ventures Group is initially focusing on Mexico, Argentina and Brazil, where it plans to raise up to $100 million for each of these countries. “Seventy percent of [Latin America’s] regional GDP comes from those countries,” said Nicholas Cutler, managing director of Darby Technology Ventures Group.

The new firm is capitalizing on Brady’s high esteem with Latin American business and political leaders. Architect of the Brady Plan (1989), Brady successfully led efforts to relieve debt burdens in a market-friendly way.

Darby Technology’s investments will focus on established, medium-sized companies specializing in Internet infrastructure technology, enterprise software, information technology, communications and networking.

Cutler said Latin America is not as entrenched in copper wire as the United States, making wireless technology investments quite suitable to the region.

Although investors worldwide have, for now, shunned the tech sector, Latin American statistics are more encouraging, and Cutler noted that Internet use is growing more rapidly there than in [first-world nations].

Darby sees an advantage in its cautious approach to investing. “We don’t have any black eyes like many of our competitors do,” Cutler said. “We wanted a more studied way; we were sitting on the sidelines and did not follow the crowd in 1999 and 2000.”