Exclusive: Ardian nears €2.5bn hard cap on Fund IV

The French fund manager has lately deployed capital at an accelerated pace, with two deals closed in as many weeks.

Ardian, the Paris-based fund manager, is approaching the end of its latest infrastructure fundraising effort, according to several people with knowledge of the matter.

The firm is on its way to hitting its €2.5 billion hard cap on Ardian Infrastructure Fund IV, the sources told Infrastructure Investor, with a final close expected in a matter of weeks. The vehicle, which had an initial target of €2 billion, reached a first close in February.

The only known investor in Fund IV is the Public Employees' Retirement Association of New Mexico, which committed $65 million to the vehicle at the end of last May. Limited partners in Fund III included Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Employees Provident Fund of Malaysia, Pensioenfonds PNO Media, Quartilium/Groupama Private Equity, EUROCONTROL Pension Fund, YIELCO Investments and University of Montréal Pension Plan, according to Infrastructure Investor Research & Analytics. 

Ardian declined to comment on fundraising matters.

Launched last year, Fund IV is the first infrastructure vehicle to be entirely raised by Ardian since its 2013 spin-out from French insurer AXA. It will follow a strategy similar to that of its predecessor, which focuses on regulated and unregulated core assets including gas and electricity grids, transportation assets such as toll roads and airports, and renewable energy plants.

Fund III reached a final close in March 2013 on €1.45 billion, topped up by a further €300 million earmarked for co-investments. It was 80 percent deployed as at March this year.

The fresh fundraising milestone would be achieved at a time of heightened dealmaking activity at the French firm, with two transactions closed over the last two weeks.

Ardian first teamed with EDF Invest, the asset management arm of French utility EDF, to buy a majority interest in Géosel, an oil storage business based in Manosque, Southern France.

The firm then acquired an additional 10 percent stake in CLH, a Spanish oil storage business it first backed in 2011, from Madrid-headquartered energy group Repsol. It now owns 25 percent of the company, in which it had already made a 5 percent follow-on investment in 2013.

 “Having concluded our three transactions in CLH with customers and industrial shareholders highlights our ability to secure deal flow thanks to our local presence and network and to share long term vision for strategic assets,” commented Juan Angoitia, managing director of infrastructure at Ardian, upon announcing the deal last week.

The firm opened a new office in Madrid, its 11th outpost internationally, at the beginning of this month.