BNP Paribas plans North and Latin America infra debt strategy – exclusive

The French banking group is attracted by the ‘very active’ US market, saying the potential move is not directly linked to President Trump’s focus on infrastructure.

BNP Paribas Asset Management is planning an expansion of its infrastructure debt platform to North and Latin America, Infrastructure Investor has learnt.

The asset management business of the French banking group is in the earlier stages of the strategy and has no formal deadline in place but is analysing deal flow recently launched.

“It is still under discussion but we are now investigating a potential North American and Latin American strategy,” Karen Azoulay, head of infrastructure debt at BNP Paribas AM, told Infrastructure Investor. “It’s an ongoing process and we are investigating how it could work in that market.”

Azoulay stressed that the launch is not directly linked to President Trump’s focus on infrastructure but more the growth of the market across the continent and BNP’s wider status as a global player.

“Clearly, the US market is quite active,” she added. “It’s probably less diversified than what we have in Europe – it’s mainly focused on energy-related transactions – but based on our experience and the team we have in Europe, we can use that to see what we can do there. As a global player, we have to investigate what is feasible.

“Even though we have not seen any transactions directly linked to the Trump plan, this market is still very active. The combination of these two trends made us think we had to investigate that.”

In addition to energy, BNP would consider deals in telecoms, data centres and battery storage. Transactions related to the latter are already being studied by the group and Azoulay explained that BNP could bring an extra dimension to the US core infrastructure market, which is largely financed by municipal bonds.

The group’s ESG strategy would restrict the firm from investing in the US midstream sector, which experienced strong, large-scale deal flow last year. The ESG directives would not rule out investments in combined-cycle gas turbines.

BNP launched its European infrastructure debt fund last year, targeting €700 million. Azoulay said the fund has completed five transactions to date – including in the telecoms and renewable energy sectors – and is close to sealing a sixth deal before the summer.