Asterion’s €1.1bn infra debut is ‘Spain’s largest PE fund’

Asterion Industrial Infra Fund I closed on its revised hard-cap and is already close to 60% invested.

Asterion Industrial Partners has raised €1.1 billion for its debut fund in a little over a year since its launch. The final close is €100 million above its hard-cap, which investors allowed it to raise, and €250 million more than its original €850 million target.

“We are very proud and very grateful to the investors who have backed Asterion,” founding partner and chief executive of the Madrid-based firm Jesús Olmos told Infrastructure Investor, noting that it is not easy for first-time funds to win the trust of investors.

According to a statement, pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, insurance companies and other institutional investors from Europe, North America, Middle East and Asia committed capital to Asterion Industrial Infra Fund I, making it the largest private equity fund in Spain.

Asterion Infra Fund I has a 10-year lifespan with two possible extensions, and aims to generate gross returns of 12-14 percent, plus an average 5 percent yield.

In addition to the €1.1 billion raised for the fund, Asterion’s team has also raised around €500 million for co-investments in some of the transactions that have already reached financial close, as well as opportunities pending closing. This brings the total capital under the firm’s management to close to €1.6 billion, according to the statement.

UK foray

In announcing the final close of Fund I, Asterion also announced that its acquisition of Aggregated Micro Power Holdings (AMP Clean Energy) had reached financial close. The transaction, which saw Asterion Industrial Infra Fund I acquire 100 percent of AMP Clean Energy for £63 million ($82.2 million; €74.1 million) or £0.90 per share, marks the firm’s first investment in the UK and the fourth through its debut fund.

The transaction, which resulted in the de-listing of AMP Clean Energy from the LSE’s Alternative Investment Market, did not include IncubEx, an energy trading company based in the US. “It didn’t fit into our infrastructure mandate,” Olmos explained.

However, AMP Clean Energy’s two other lines of business – biomass and flexible gas generation – did, since one of Asterion’s investment theses is to be part of the energy transition.

The UK-based company “produces and supplies energy where and when it is most efficient in a clean way and on a smaller scale,” Olmos said.

Next stop: Italy

Asterion is also entering the Italian market with the acquisition of energy utility Sorgenia. The firm has partnered with Italian fund manager F2i in a deal that is expected to close in early April.

“To have a partner like F2i, that knows Italy perfectly, is very important,” Olmos commented. But in addition to local knowledge, F2i will also be transferring a renewables portfolio – 300MW of wind power and 100MW of biomass – to Sorgenia, which is primarily a gas-fired power generation company at the moment with 3.2GW of generating capacity.

“We really believe that this is the winning model for the future – to have integrated companies with renewables, flexible generation and supply,” Olmos said, adding that “F2i brings a lot to the table”.

F2i will be the majority shareholder, while Asterion will be acquiring a minority stake of between 25 and 30 percent, Olmos explained. However, despite being a minority shareholder, Asterion will be actively involved in defining the company’s strategy going forward, according to Olmos.

The Spanish firm also has a sixth deal in the works, which is also nearing financial close Olmos said, but declined to provide further details. That transaction is also expected to reach financial close around the same time as Sorgenia, at the beginning of April. When it does, Fund I will have committed around 60 percent of capital raised in six assets, Olmos said.

The other three investments include Proxiserve, a French energy services company, which Asterion invested in alongside French fund manager Mirova last March. The second was Asterion Energies, a renewables platform that is being built up to invest in energy transition. And the third is Nabiax, a platform comprising 11 data centres that was carved out from Spanish telecom incumbent Telefónica.