American Capital hires Asia infra head

The US private equity giant has hired a former Citibank investment banker to spearhead its efforts in Asia.

American Capital Energy & Infrastructure, the infrastructure-focused team of the $119 billion private equity giant, has hired its first head of Asia in Abhay Pande, who will serve as managing director alongside two Asia advisors, according to a company statement.

Pande will be responsible for sourcing, underwriting and managing energy and infrastructure investments in Asia, and is the most recent hire to join the newly-formed fund under American Capital. American Capital Energy & Infrastructure was only founded in late 2012, and its team is now eight strong.

However, a source close to the matter told Infrastructure Investor that the firm is also raising a global fund to take advantage of opportunities in emerging markets worldwide – in Africa, Latin America and particularly Asia. It will be one of American Capital’s first forays outside of North America and Europe.

Although details of the fund are still being hammered out, it is understood to be targeting between $750 million and $1 billion, to be midway through the fundraising process, and to have a fund life slightly longer than the typical private equity fund, since it will be focused on infrastructure investments.

American Capital declined to comment on the fundraising.

Prior to joining American Capital’s infrastructure team, Pande was in various investment banking roles in Citigroup's investment banking division, including co-head of the Asian Energy Group and head of Southeast Asia Industrials, where he focused primarily on mergers and acquisitions and capital markets activities. Altogether he has 15 years of investment banking experience, primarily in the energy sector, according to the statement.

In a separate interview, Pande told Infrastructure Investor that he was most attracted to the experience that the team members at American Capital had in infrastructure. Almost every single one of them worked at AES Corporation, one of the largest global energy infrastructure companies in the world, and several were actually instrumental in building out that platform in Asia, he said.

Their operational experience gave them perspective and credibility that few funds have, Pande said, and thus the fund is more willing to take on greenfield and brownfield investments. He saw his investment banking experience as complementary to the team's operational experience.

Pande was glad to see that the energy and infrastructure team was quite focused on emerging markets. “Emerging Asia will be a core area for us, as well as Africa and Latin America, because that’s where we think the money is,” Pande said.