Eurazeo nabs Marguerite trio for new infra unit

The team is looking to fill the void left by managers leaving the European mid-market space, CIO Laurent Chatelin tells us.

Paris-based asset manager Eurazeo has created a new infrastructure unit following a triple hiring from Europe’s Marguerite fund.

The group has appointed Laurent Chatelin, formerly partner at Marguerite, as founding partner and chief investment officer. He is joined by Martin Sichelkow and Melissa Cohen as managing directors, both formerly investment directors at Marguerite, the publicly-funded European infrastructure vehicle established in 2010.

The new unit’s focus will be on “sectors supporting the numerous underlying changes currently taking place in Europe”, Eurazeo said in a statement, such as digital infrastructure and energy transition assets. However, Chatelin said the team will be looking at assets which combine both strands of the market.

“We believe we are positioning ourselves at the forefront of what infra will be tomorrow,” he told Infrastructure Investor. “It’s not all about renewable generation, ie how to generate electricity without CO2; or digital infra, ie how to process, transport and store data. It’s also combining the two, in new sectors, such as e-mobility, for example. There are not many managers around that combine effectively digital and energy.”

Eurazeo plans to launch a European infrastructure fund later in the year, although Chatelin stressed that its initial focus will be on investments, with balance sheet capital provided by Eurazeo.

“We have committed capital from the balance sheet of Eurazeo. We are not in a hurry to go out and fundraise and will gradually engage with the LP market. What we are looking to do is to find proper seed assets that demonstrate our strategy,” he said.

The strategy will focus on acquiring and developing mid-market investments, which Chatelin believes has been somewhat vacated in recent years.

“Managers have been growing quickly and today they raise multi-billion euro funds, which translates into large equity tickets and they have left the mid-market space. The mid-market is where we believe we can source proprietary deal flow and add value and it’s where we want to be,” he said. “At Marguerite we were all about greenfield. We, as a team, are one of the few that have a track record of investing into the greenfield space. Our fund will target brownfield buy-and-build platforms and selected greenfield opportunities.”

Chatelin, who joined Marguerite from Oasis Capital in 2010, pointed to the group’s record as an early investor in both offshore wind and fibre broadband, and did not believe the new Eurazeo unit would suffer from some of the recent difficulties experienced by first-time managers.

“It’s all about perception,” he said. “I’m sure we’ll be labelled as a first-time fund and/or a first-time team, but the important thing is that we are able to source, structure and execute deals as we have been doing together for the past decade. We have transacted, managed and exited assets at Marguerite. It’s an old first-time team, effectively.”

Eurazeo has €18.8 billion of assets under management, including private equity, real estate and private debt capabilities.