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3i reaches $500m first close on North American infra fund – exclusive

The UK-based investment firm launched its first dedicated North American infrastructure fund last year, targeting $1bn.

UK-based private equity 3i Group reached a $500 million first close on its first dedicated North American infrastructure vehicle last week – 3i North American Infrastructure Fund – sources told Infrastructure Investor.

As Infrastructure Investor understands, the fund is targeting $1 billion to $1.1 billion, though that number was $1.5 billion at the time of launch in December 2021. It is believed the pandemic played a large part in the rolling back of expectations. 

Sources also divulged to Infrastructure Investor that the fund is seeking net returns in the mid to high teens. Moving forward, 3i’s strategy for deployment of capital is set to mirror that of its predecessor funds, investing in mid-market companies across energy, digital, transport and social infrastructure.

The fund has already made three investments, according to the sources, one of which is Smarte Carte, a travel services provider that vends luggage carts, wheelchairs, electronic lockers, and more at over 2,500 locations worldwide – it was first invested in by 3i in 2017. Other investments include a regional rail deal and an ESG-oriented landfill in Puerto Rico called EC Waste.

The firm has also recently announced a major shift in leadership, with managing partner Phil White, who for eight years served as head of infrastructure, moving to vice-chair of infrastructure. The head of infra position will then be split between three people – managing partners Scott Moseley and Bernardo Sottomayor, who will be co-heads of European infrastructure, and Rob Collins will continue to head the North American infrastructure business. 

Collins was initially appointed by the firm in 2017 to establish 3i’s infra business in North America, leaving his position as head of global investments for Europe and North America at Hastings Funds Management. Moseley and Sottomayor have been partners with the firm since 2007 and 2015, respectively.

Representatives from 3i Group declined to comment.