Blackstone seeks infra opportunities in Europe with new hire

The NY-based firm has hired Brookfield Infrastructure’s European head, Jonathan Kelly, to source opportunities in the region for its open-ended BIP fund.

Blackstone has hired Brookfield Infrastructure’s Jonathan Kelly to build out its own dedicated European infrastructure team.

Kelly will assume his new role as senior managing director and head of European infrastructure on 6 April and will be based in London. He will also be responsible for sourcing investment opportunities across the region, Blackstone said in a statement.

Kelly joins the firm from Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management, which he first joined in 2007 as an associate. Most recently, he served as managing partner and head of Europe for Brookfield Infrastructure, and global chief investment officers for utilities and data infrastructure. Earlier this month, Brookfield concluded raising its fourth flagship infrastructure fund which closed on $20 billion.

A spokeswoman for Blackstone declined to comment beyond the firm’s statement.

Blackstone is currently investing its inaugural infrastructure fund, an open-ended vehicle that closed its first round of fundraising last July on $14 billion. Blackstone Infrastructure Partners, which is anchored by a dollar-matching commitment of up to $20 billion from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, has a mandate to invest up to 30 percent of its capital in Western Europe.

BIP became the largest ever first-time infrastructure fund when it closed last year, and Blackstone has set a long-term $40 billion fundraising target. The firm plans to invest BIP mostly in US infrastructure and in sectors including energy, communications, transportation, and water and waste.

Blackstone has announced two deals from BIP to date, including the $3.3 billion majority acquisition of US midstream company Tallgrass Energy in January 2019, a deal that was expanded in December to include the purchase of the company’s remaining outstanding shares.

Two months later, Blackstone acquired a minority stake in Carrix, billed as the largest marine terminal operator in the US and in the Americas. Terms of that transaction were not disclosed.

Sean Klimczak, who joined Blackstone in 2005 and has spent more than a decade working on the firm’s energy investments, is leading the fundraise. He’s joined by former General Electric executive Stephen Bolze, who was hired in August 2017 to head infrastructure portfolio operations and asset management.