BlackRock names new head of European infra debt

Jonathan Stevens joins from CIBC following the departure of Chris Wrenn and Philippe Benaroya, two of the original founding members of BlackRock’s European infrastructure debt team.

Following the launch of a new North American power team, BlackRock  Real Assets continues its hiring spree with the addition of CIBC's Jonathan Stevens as managing director and head of European infrastructure debt.

Stevens, who brings 18 years of infrastructure debt experience, will be based in London and report to global head of infrastructure debt Erik Savi. His appointment follows the  recent departure of two of the original founding members of BlackRock's European infrastructure debt team – Chris Wrenn and Philippe Benaroya – leaving Gilles Lengaigne as the European team's only remaining founder.

At CIBC, Stevens was head of European infrastructure and sat on the bank's European operating and deals committees. Prior to that, he worked with Savi and other members of BlackRock's debt team at WestLB, where he led the EMEA infrastructure business and managed a €4.3 billion infrastructure loan book.

BlackRock's infrastructure debt business has some $4.4 billion of assets under management (AUM), mostly built on separate accounts. Last year was a significant year for the unit, with its AUM increasing significantly from 2014's $1.6 billion.

The debt team also went through an internal reorganisation which last August saw Savi, formerly BlackRock's head of North American infrastructure debt, promoted to global head of infrastructure debt. Eric Wu was hired last October to head BlackRock's Asia-Pacific infrastructure debt business. And Jeetu Balchandani, a former MetLife staffer who joined in 2014, was recently promoted to head of North American infrastructure debt.

In other recruitment news, BlackRock last week hired Pat Eilers from private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners to build a North American equity strategy focused on conventional power and energy, in a move that could lead to new product launches.

BlackRock Infrastructure has some $8.6 billion in assets under management, which it built up in a little over five years. In a March keynote interview with Infrastructure Investor Jim Barry, head of real assets and leader of BlackRock Infrastructure, explained infrastructure debt was the second prong in a strategy that started with renewable energy, following Barry's hire from renewables developer NTR.