Who we are

Message from our Managing Partner,
Rajaa Mekouar

"Calista Direct Investors is the result of my 20+ years of Private Equity investing throughout Europe, with roles at PE/VC funds, family offices and as Head of the LPEA (Luxembourg Private Equity Association) more recently. The common thread throughout my journey has been my passion for entrepreneurship and the potential of private markets to deliver strong, long-term returns to private investors. Today, as private markets are coming of age, I am proud to bring all my expertise and network to best serve private investors out of Luxembourg, the European hub for PE/VC dealmaking and investing, alongside a team that shares the same values and ethos and brings complementary skills to our clients".

Calista Direct Investors is represented by a professional team with complementary skills and experience across the PE/VC spectrum, with the highest commitment to the task at hand and strongest sense of ethics.

Executive Team


Years of cumulative work experience


Languages spoken


Countries covered


Continents covered

Rajaa Mekouar

Managing Partner
  • Former CEO LPEA
  • Former Head of PE at Family Office 
  • Worked as GP, LP and Co-investor in Europe, Asia and the US 
  • Advisory Board member of Spuerkeess 
  • Inspirational Woman in Finance Award 2020
  • Top 100 Executive Women Luxembourg
  • HEC Grande Ecole (Paris)
  • MBA Insead

Natalia Koltunovskaya

Chief of Staff
  • Former Head of Communications at LPEA
  • Former Director of an exclusive early education start-up in Tokyo
  • Former editor at Tatler Russia, Conde Nast, Moscow

Adele Schneider

  • Former Venture Capital and Growth Equity Analyst at Creadev
  • Former M&A Analyst at Natixis 
  • Graduated from ESCP Business School and Cass Business School

Aaron Wajsbrot

  • Formerly in charge of M&A for a major healthcare group under LBO
  • Previous experience in PE and M&A at Eurazeo and Clearwater International
  • Graduate of ESCP Business School and Sorbonne University

Hung-Ying Chen

  • Former experience in New Models at Allianz Partners
  • Corporate M&A and strategic risk at BNP Paribas
  • Graduate of HEC Paris Grande Ecole and National Taiwan University

Lina Jamal

  • Former Financial Analyst at Back Market (french marketplace) and Reworth (mexican fintech)
  • Former Venture Capital Analyst Intern at Quadrille Capital
  • Former M&A Analyst Intern at Lazard
  • Graduated from ESCP Business School and Warwick Business School

Tom Leonardi

Senior Analyst
  • IÉSEG School of Management, MSc in Finance
  • Previous experience at Investindustrial as Intern Analyst
  • Intern at Disney Orlando and KPMG Luxembourg

Bruno Fernandes Do Vale

Audit and Finance Coordinator
  • Previous experience as junior accountant
  • Graduate of the University of Luxembourg and Haute Ecole de Namur- Liège-Luxembourg

Board of Directors

Our non-executive team gathers people with extraordinary experience and expertise. These professionals have a long-term relationship with Calista Team based on trust and years of cooperation.

Serge de Ganay

  • Founding Chairman
  • 40 years of experience
  • Executive Chairman of Calista Direct Investors
  • Former Chairman of Bemberg Group (Quilvest shareholder)

HRH Prince Felix of Luxembourg

  • 12 years of experience
  • Entrepreneur Investor
  • Vineyard owner / manager

John Holloway

  • 40 years of experience
  • Former Director of EIF
  • Advisor to AMUF and LPEA

Maha Daoudi

  • 25 years of experience
  • Former top executive in Commodities trading
  • Private investor

Simone Retter

  • 35+ years of experience
  • Qualified lawyer specialised in wealth structuring
  • Advisor for high net worth families and entrepreneurs
  • Former Head of the Private Wealth Practice Group of Arendt & Medernach

Lionel Catala

  • 15 years of experience
  • Family Officer Investor
  • Entrepreneur
  • Former private banker

Our Experts

Calista has assembled a growing team of Senior Advisors to assist our due diligence work in specific sectors, in line with our 7 verticals. They are part of what we call "Sector Expert Committee" that supports our Screening Committee in selecting our shortlist of investment opportunities.

Prof. Francois Lacour-Gayet


Prof. Francois Lacour-Gayet is a retired Professor of Cardiac Surgery.
He graduated from Paris University and trained in Paris University Hospitals. After working 17 years in Paris, he moved overseas and  practised as chief of Academic Departments of paediatric cardiac surgery in Hamburg, Denver, New York, London and Sultanate of Oman. While in Denver, Colorado, his department was ranking #4 on 150 US paediatric cardiac surgery centers. Some of his main surgical interests are: neonatal cardiac surgery, complex cardiac repair, evaluation of quality of care, and humanitarian programs. Francois was previously Council Member at the European Association of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery (EACTS) and founder of ECHSA. He has published a book on ‘Surgery of Conotruncal Anomalies’ in 2016 and his publication list includes 212 peer-reviewed articles. He is committed to support Charity Programs in developing countries.

Helene Holzmann


Helene is a highly experienced luxury retail consultant.
She brings a wealth of experience, having spent the last 25 years working in the luxury industry initially as a Flagship Store Manager (multi-sites) for Chaumet, Vertu, Goyard; and subsequently as Country manager for Delvaux and Valextra in charge of both retail and wholesale accounts. Helene has also worked as a consultant delivering high profile assignments in areas such as competitive intelligence of key competitors and their best practice, customer service assessment, visual merchandising strategy and implementation, and management development for Chanel and Buccellati. Leading global luxury organisations have utilised Helene for spearheading launches, identifying new opportunities for product development, refining and implementing business strategies. Essential to her brief was the implementation of multiple store openings in London and nurturing and developing relationships with partners such as Harrods, Selfridges and DSML.

Layina Oudrhiri

Consumer Goods & Services

Layina is an experienced consultant in Cosmetics and Industrial Operations.

She brings 15 years of experience in Luxury and Consumer Cosmetics industries. She worked for nine years at L’Oréal in Paris as an Innovation Sourcing Leader in charge of developing new solutions for Skincare, Make up, Fragrances and Electronic Devices markets. She managed multi-brand portfolios and developed partnerships with the most innovative suppliers worldwide. She subsequently joined Orveda, a high-end skincare startup in London, as COO, with a focus on product development, business growth and operations. In particular, she was key in designing and developing the B2B distribution across Europe and USA, and the B2C worldwide activity via E-commerce.

More recently, Layina has been working as a strategy and operations consultant on Entrepreneurial programs. She managed a pre-incubator program for startups, an innovative Intrapreneurship program for public administration and is currently contributing to a global research on the "Entrepreneurial Mindset". She also assisted institutional clients in developing their operational strategies.

Antoine Mallard


Antoine Mallard is Senior Advisor to promising start-ups regarding their overall strategy (which may include fundraising).

In parallel, Antoine is the VP of Portfolio Management at Causality Link, a US fintech in sentiment 2.0, where he develops alert systems for fundamental managers and quantamental strategies for systematic funds.

Antoine also teaches Private Equity, Venture Capital, Growth & Impact Investing, M&A and Hedge Fund Strategies at a few leading European business schools, including Cambridge University.

Antoine co-founded AiVEN Partners, an impact & deep tech fund investing in early-stage Artificial Intelligence companies. He was the CIO of D’Alembert Capital, a London-based hedge fund, and before that Antoine was managing Concordia Advisors’ Event-Driven Fund, in which MAN Group, the world’s largest publicly-listed hedge fund, invested. Before that, he was Head of Research at Systeia Capital Management (then the largest Paris-based multi-strategy hedge fund and a subsidiary of Credit Agricole/Amundi, the largest French bank).

Matthieu Coisne

Energy Transition

Matthieu brings 360 degrees view with 25 years of experience in the telecommunication and energy industries with a focus in international growth strategy and investment. Matthieu has worked for Orange in charge of international business development and M&A operations in numerous geographies. More recently he worked for a family holding company where he settled and lead the department in charge of direct and indirect investments. In this position he built a dealflow and invested in renewable energy and energy transition. He has been part of investment committees for PE funds and various boards.
He graduated in civil engineering and finance and holds an executive MBA from HEC Paris.

Manuel Herrero

Media & Sports

Manuel is the President of Mañana Films, launched in 2022. He is also the Founder of Capa Sport within the NEWEN group Producer and the Director of more than 40 films and documentary series including:- PSG ô ville lumière, 4x52 for Amazon, budget: €2.5M - Building the Legend, 90' on Roland Garros, budget: €600K, sold in 16 countries- Legend Live On, portraits of Olympic legends for the IOC platform, budget: €1.2M- Two 90' for Canal +: Play in 2012, €2M budget, sold in 25 countries and Coach in 2016, €650K budget, sold in 11 countries. Manuel co-presented the discovery programme "Les Nouveaux explorateurs" on Canal +, 28x52' from 2007 to 2015. He also supported Paris 2024 during the last year of the bid. A graduate of ESSEC and Sciences Po, Manuel comes from a large rugby family and was himself a top- level sportsman. 

External Advisers and Experts

Calista relies on experts to assist us with important support functions that include “Talent / Leadership / Human Resources”, “IT / Data / Cybersecurity" and "Tax consulting".

Ian Prideaux

Senior Advisor
  • Former Chief Investment Officer for the Family Investment Office of the Grosvenor Estate
  • Former Business Development Director at HSBC Private Bank
  • More than 45 years of experience in investments
  • Former Head of Special Projects at Caspian Securities Ltd.

Kenza Mekouar

Talent and Leadership Advisor
  • Founder of Career 3.0, an international Executive & Career Coaching company since 2013
  • Past corporate experiences include working as a Strategy Consultant at Deloitte, as a Consultant for a Global Bank, as a Recruitment & Talent consultant for banks in London
  • BSc.in Economics from the London School of Economics (LSE)
  • Advanced Coaching Diploma from The University of Cambridge
  • Certificate in NLP and Positive Psychology
  • Fluent in English, French, Spanish and Arabic

Louis Thomas

Tax Expert
  • Partner at KPMG 2000-2021
  • Led the Tax Team of 60 people for more than 10 years
  • More than 34 years of professional activity and experience in business and international corporate tax consulting
  • Advises major families for their wealth structuring
  • Carried out successfully some very important restructuring and merger projects of top 10 major groups worldwide

Helie de Cornois

Estate Planning and Philanthropy Expert
  • Head of Family Office Luxembourg at Stonehage Fleming
  • More than 18 years of experience in the estate planning industry and philanthropy sector
  • Advises ultra-high net worth private clients and investors on a range of international and domestic estate planning matters
  • Former Head of Estate Planning & International Patrimonial Services at Banque Degroof Petercam in Luxembourg
  • Member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP)

Franz Gaul

Asset Allocation Expert
  • 30 years experience
  • Former CIO of prominent foundation
  • Asset allocation in private markets
  • Fund selection
  • Portfolio monitoring
  • International scope
  • Graduate of Passau-University (Economics)

Marcel Hoffmann

Digital Transformation Scout
  • Over 35 years of IT experience
  • Former Head of IT Architecture & Service Delivery at Luxembourg Stock Exchange
  • Constant learner with three IT courses completed in 2020 alone
  • Expert in technical support, cybersecurity and data protection

Core Values

Responsible Commitment

At Calista Direct Investors, we support the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and put the highest attention to:

We have clear guidelines to help us promote these goals meaningful to the team, and the desire to contribute to the prosperity for people and the planet are embraced by the whole team.

With every investment opportunity we advise our clients, we contribute to new solutions and better ways to improve the system. Our investors have the possibility to focus solely on sustainable investment opportunities.

As a part of our personal commitment, we endorse local artists, support local culture and encourage societal inclusion together with people whose work we respect and admire.

External Partners

Calista is supported by a professional network of external advisers, we work with closely on a partnership basis, with whom we have had a long-term relationship.