Asterion beats target with €901m raise

The Madrid-based firm expects to reach a final close by year end on its €1bn hard-cap for what is already one of Spain’s largest-ever private equity vehicles.

Less than a year after Asterion Industrial Partners launched its debut fund, it has beaten its €850 million target and has completed three deals in three different sub-sectors.

Asterion Industrial Infrastructure Fund I, which was launched in November 2018, has a €1 billion hard-cap and a 10-year lifespan with two possible extensions, and aims to generate gross returns of 12-14 percent and an average yield of 5 percent.

“We have a select number of investors that are still currently finalising documentation, which we expect to close before year end and that would mark the final close,” Winnie Wutte, one of Asterion’s founding partners, told Infrastructure Investor.

Commitments from a range of institutional investors – including pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, insurance companies and family offices – contributed to Asterion Industrial Fund I becoming one of the largest first-time infrastructure funds raised in Europe and one of the quickest fundraisings.

It is also the largest fund across private equity and infrastructure to be raised in Spain, according to Wutte. “There aren’t any infrastructure managers in Spain, certainly not any international ones,” she said.

According to chief executive and founding partner Jesús Olmos, it is the firm’s focus, industrial approach and mid-market strategy that resonated with investors.

“We’re going to do exactly what we’ve done in the past and we’re going to focus on what we feel we have done well,” he said. “That means markets such as the UK, Italy, France, Spain and Portugal. I think we can do something different in those markets, in terms of deal origination, in terms of knowing the different stakeholders, and in terms of presence.”

Asked whether targeting southern Europe comprises part of Asterion’s competitive advantage, Olmos replied: “There is a lack of international GPs that have a focus on those markets – Spain, Portugal, Italy. I think we are sort of filling the gap and I think we can really differentiate ourselves in those markets.”

While Asterion’s geographic focus in terms of investments centres on Europe, its LP base is diversified across regions. According to Wutte, North American investors accounted for roughly one-third of fund commitments, Europe for roughly 40 to 45 percent, and the remainder from the Middle East and the rest of the world.

“We were probably surprised as to how much interest we had outside Europe,” Wutte commented. “I think as a European fund, you would naturally think that the interest would come from your home market. Yes, we have quite a lot of European investors, but equally, I think we were surprised that we had interest from farther afield as well.”

Asterion has already made three investments through its debut fund. The first was Proxiserve, a French energy services company, where Asterion invested in alongside French fund manager Mirova in March. The second was Asterion Energies, a renewables platform that is being built up to invest in energy transition. The third is Nabiax, a platform comprising 11 data centres and carved out from Spanish telecom incumbent Telefónica.

“Setting up a platform in a sector gives you a lot of value and leverage,” Olmos explained. “You have a management team that can buy an asset, invest in a greenfield [project] through a portfolio company and that is what we like,” he said, adding that the firm’s strategy will remain the same.

In addition to the €901 million raised so far for Asterion Industrial Infrastructure Fund I, the team has also raised around €400 million for co-investments in two of the three transactions that have already reached financial close.

Headquartered in Madrid, the firm also has a presence in London and Paris. It employs a team of 16, recently having hired Bice Di Gregorio as senior director, which according to Wutte, completes the senior team.

“The rest of the team is nearly complete, so we’d be looking to add one or two more associates over the next six months or so,” Wutte said. “But, from an operational and investment standpoint, the team is up and running and we feel we’re in a very good position to be able to invest and execute our strategy with the amount of capital that we have raised today.”