Ex-CDC chief to head 3i Infra

Richard Laing will replace Peter Sedgwick as chairman at a time when the UK-listed firm is steering towards riskier strategies.

3i Infrastructure has appointed Richard Laing as its new chairman with effect from 1 January 2016.

Laing is to succeed Peter Sedgwick, who has been in the role since 2007. His departure was announced when the firm reported its results for the 2014/2015 financial year last May.

Laing was formerly chief executive at CDC Group, the UK’s development finance institution, between 2004 and 2011, having been its finance director since 2000. He currently holds a variety of non-executive roles with companies including JP Morgan Emerging Markets Investment Trust and Perpetual Income and Growth Investment Trust, two UK-listed asset managers, as well as timber business Miro Forestry and private charitable trust Leeds Castle Foundation.

He was previously chairman of the Advisory Council of the Emerging Markets Private Equity Association and non-executive director at the London Metal Exchange, Madagascar Oil, Aureos Capital and Camelot. He did most of his earlier career at banknote printer De La Rue, having started as an assistant manager at PwC.

His appointment was announced jointly with 3i Infrastructure’s results for the six months to 30 September 2015, which saw its net asset value increase by 6.5 percent.

The firm disbursed £187 million (€262 million; $281 million) during the period, through investments in Nordic offshore services company ESVAGT, two oil storage businesses owned by Germany's Oiltanking and the UK's West of Duddon Sands offshore transmission owner project.

It now has about £335 million of dry powder at its disposal, including cash balances of £51 million and an undrawn revolving credit facility balance of £284 million.

The results come six months after the firm revised its return target down from 10 percent to a range of between 8 and 10 percent, citing rising competition and pricing in the core infrastructure segment. That objective already represented a reduction from the 12 percent aim it had prior to May 2013.

3i Infrastructure is currently striving to ramp up its exposure to investments higher up the risk curve with an emphasis on greenfield and “core-plus” assets. The firm last month hired a new partner and a strategy director to help drive these efforts.