Carlyle plots infra debt buildout with Erik Savi hire – exclusive

Executive’s arrival comes two months after leaving his position as head of infra debt at BlackRock.

The Carlyle Group has set its sights on infrastructure debt with the hiring of former BlackRock infrastructure debt chief Erik Savi, Infrastructure Investor has learnt.

A spokeswoman for Carlyle confirmed to Infrastructure Investor that Savi had started his new role, as global head of infrastructure debt, last week. Based in the firm’s New York office, he is responsible for structuring, originating and managing debt investments in projects at or below investment grade. The spokeswoman said these investments included mezzanine structures and stretched “across several different industries”.

He will be reporting to Justin Plouffe, deputy chief investment officer for Carlyle Global Credit. Savi will be joined by Gareth Jones, who previously worked with him at Merrill Lynch. Jones held a role in the Canadian government as managing director of infrastructure and innovation. Jones has joined Carlyle in the role of principal.

The hirings represent Carlyle’s first foray into infrastructure debt. The firm is also raising a $2.5 billion fund for its infrastructure equity platform and has recently hired senior executives for its renewable and sustainable energy platform.

In March, Savi stepped down as global head of infrastructure debt at BlackRock Real Assets. During almost six years in the role, he built out a global infrastructure debt platform with more than $10 billion in assets under management. According to Infrastructure Investor’s inaugural ranking of the 10 largest infrastructure debt managers, BlackRock was the second-largest infrastructure debt manager in the world after EIG Global Energy Partners.

BlackRock did not replace Savi directly. Instead it combined its $10.5 billion infrastructure debt platform with its real estate debt business to create a real assets debt platform worth more than $11 billion. The combined platform is led by former real estate chief Robert Karnes.

According to sister publication Private Debt Investor, Carlyle has $212 billion in private debt assets under management and was ranked the 25th largest private debt manager.