BNP Paribas invests €300m in infrastructure partner

The banking giant’s €300m commitment to boutique manager Antin Infrastructure Partners will go toward helping its first fund meet its target goal of €1bn.

French banking group BNP Paribas Group has invested €300 million in its recently launched European infrastructure manager, Antin Infrastructure Partners, which is targeting €1 billion for its first fund.

Paris-based boutique firm Antin IP launched its first fund in July 2008, and will invest in four sectors: energy and environment, social infrastructure, telecoms and transport. It also will invest in non-listed assets and target an internal rate of return of 15 percent.

The fund already has invested in UK rail leasing company Porterbrook and Croatian motorway company Bina Istra. Managing partner Mark Crosbie recently told Reuters that the firm hopes to raise more than €600 million by the end of the first quarter of 2009.

The demand for private investments in infrastructure will be strengthened by growing populations and increased energy consumption, privatisations, government deficits and budget constraints, he said in a statement. Crosbie is one of three managing partners on Antin IP’s executive committee, along with chairman Alain Rauscher and chief operating officer Melanie Biessey. A fourth person is expected to be named to the team soon.

BNP Paribas Investment Partners, which manages around €236 billion in assets, owns 40 percent of firm via a holding company, with the remaining 60 percent held by Anton IP’s managing partners. Chantal Mazzacurati, the head of alternative management and private equity for BNP Paribas IP, said in a statement that infrastructure funds have become an ideal mechanism for diversifying a traditional portfolio.

BNP Paribas also recently launched an in-house distressed finance group within its corporate and investment banking division to focus on distressed trading, rescue financing and turnaround investing, while in June it launched its first fund outside of Europe.