Downing recruits ex-Lightsource fundraising head amid $2.1bn push

Shane Swords will lead efforts to source institutional capital, as the group drives forward its electric vehicle infra plans.

UK-based investment manager Downing has appointed Shane Swords as its head of institutional fundraising following its plans for a 2GW battery programme.

Swords has joined in a newly created role following a two-year spell as head of equity fundraising at UK solar developer Lightsource Renewable Energy, where the group formed a £1 billion ($1.3 billion; €1.1 billion) partnership with BlackRock. He was previously a director at Rubicon Infrastructure Finance.

Swords’s appointment comes four weeks after Downing announced a partnership with battery group Pivot Power to build a 2GW network of grid-scale batteries and rapid electric vehicle charging stations across the UK. The project is set to be the world’s largest grid-connected battery network, worth £1.6 billion.

Downing plans to raise funding from institutional investors to support the plan and Swords will be focused on facilitating this, although the firm plans a wider push into the energy side of its business. The firm said it will also be raising capital from members of the public, through its Downing Crowd platform, for the EV network.

“Shane’s combined experience of both the energy sector and institutional investment space makes him an invaluable addition at what is a very important time for the Downing team,” said Chris Allner, head of investment at Downing.

“Energy infrastructure investment has been a core part of Downing’s business historically and we are now placing an increasing emphasis on certain areas of the market, including reserve power, that are going from strength to strength and creating sustainable and exciting investment opportunities for institutional investors along the way.”

Downing’s energy investments have previously tended to focus on smaller projects. Last year, the firm offloaded a 5MW biogas project to John Laing Environmental Assets Group and a 1.6MW solar rooftop portfolio to Aviva. The group also recently completed work on its first Indian solar investments, constructing a 20MW portfolio alongside Armstrong Energy Global.