Exclusive: 3i Infra hires new partner, CFO

The appointments are two of a handful recently made by the UK-listed firm as it seeks expansion in the greenfield and core-plus markets.

3i Infrastructure has made three senior hires in a bid to bolster its capabilities amid rising competitive pressures for infrastructure assets.

Bernardo Sottomayor today joins the London-listed firm as a partner to focus on origination and execution across Europe, with an emphasis on economic infrastructure assets. Sottomayor was most recently a partner at Antin Infrastructure Partners , where he was primarily responsible for origination in the utilities sector, he said during an interview with Infrastructure Investor .

He was previously a managing director and head of acquisitions for Deutsche Bank 's European infrastructure fund, where he was part of a team that built the vehicle's eventual portfolio of 12 assets. He formerly served as head of mergers and acquisitions at Iberian utility Energias de Portugal, a role that saw him transact across both developed and emerging markets.

Also joining 3i Infrastructure next January will be James Dawes, as chief financial officer, and Chris Rowland, as strategy director. Dawes is currently a divisional finance head in the asset management arm of UK insurer Legal & General, where he has been serving since 1997 in positions including finance director of LGV Capital, the group's private equity business. He will be succeeding Stephen Halliwell, who's been in the role since 2007. 
Rowland will meanwhile join from consultancy PwC, where he is a director and part of the financial decisions and analysis team. He previously spent four years at developer Lend Lease, where he founded and headed the corporate finance team.

His role at 3i Infrastructure will be to steer the firm towards further growth and fresh opportunities at a time when competitive pressures build in core infrastructure markets, said Ben Loomes, managing partner and co-head of infrastructure at 3i Group. The firm also added two associates to its investment team earlier this year.

The news comes after a busy first half of the year for 3i Infrastructure, which saw it deploy £187 million (€252 million; $287 million) through three deals in the six months to end September. These comprise a £111 million investment in Nordic offshore services company ESVAGT , a £53 million injection in two oil storage businesses owned by Germany's Oiltanking and £23 million paid for a stake in the UK's West of Duddon Sands offshore transmission owner project

Loomes explained that 3i Infrastructure had over the last few years been looking at assets higher up the risk/return curve, in a bid to generate better returns than those offered today by the majority of plain-vanilla opportunities. This had led the firm to buy the infrastructure unit of UK lender Barclays, which is focused on public-private partnerships and greenfield assets, as well as contemplate greater activity in 'core-plus' segments of the market.

3i Infrastructure last May revised its annual return target to an 8 to 10 percent range, rather than solely aiming for the top end of this bracket. The move came after it recorded a record windfall from the sale of UK rail lessor Eversholt, which boosted its return for the year ending March 2015 to 24.6 percent.

Loomes declined to comment on the company's results for the half year to end September 2015, due by early November. The company returned £150 million to shareholders through a special dividend in July.