Ardian’s debut Americas fund tops $800m

The French manager beat its $500m target for its first dollar-denominated vehicle, targeting the energy and transport sectors, primarily in the US and Chile, but also in Canada and Mexico.

Paris-based Ardian raised more than $800 million for Ardian Americas Infrastructure Fund IV, beating its original $500 million target less than six months since it began fundraising.

Initially intended as a side vehicle to Ardian’s larger European fund – Ardian Infrastructure Fund IV, which closed on €2.65 billion in January 2016 – the Americas fund attracted an equal mix of North American and European LPs.

“Ardian Americas Infrastructure Fund IV was designed at the beginning as a side vehicle to AIF IV, in the sense that we prioritised our existing clients for this first-time fund,” Ardian’s head of infrastructure, Mathias Burghardt, told Infrastructure Investor. “Ultimately, we were surprised as the demand went beyond our investor base and the fund ultimately is significantly bigger than the target size, with a considerable portion of the commitment coming from new investors.”

The Americas fund will invest in energy – both natural gas and renewables – and transport, primarily in the US and Chile, but also in Canada and Mexico.

“We expect to do six to seven deals through the Americas fund,” Burghardt said. “But we always buy assets that have growth potential because the market is quite hot. Unless you do that, it is quite difficult to achieve the returns we want. It’s the only way to go from single- to double-digit returns.”

Ardian prefers to invest in assets that can be built out into platforms, which is what it did with the second investment it made through the Americas fund in March, when it partnered with Transatlantic Power Holdings to launch Skyline Renewables.

“Our strategy is to start with transactions that are small and grow transaction size from there,” Burghardt commented. “The first asset for our Skyline Renewables platform was a wind farm with 60MW and it’s the first of many assets as we build the platform. We could very well take the same approach with the transportation sector.”

Ardian’s first investment through the Americas fund was in LBC Tank Terminals, a bulk liquid storage facilities operator which is based in Belgium but conducts its main activities in Baton Rouge and Houston.

The French firm has been gearing up for this moment, appointing Stefano Mion, who has been with Ardian since 2007 and who until recently served as managing director of the firm’s infrastructure business in Milan and London, to managing director and co-head of Ardian Infrastructure US.

In March, the fund manager announced that Mark Voccola, currently a partner at the energy-focused Ares EIF Group, would be working alongside Mion in the same capacity, effective this August.

Two other team members will join Mion and Voccola in the New York office this summer, but Ardian expects the team to grow to around 12 investment professionals in the medium term, Burghardt said.