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Exclusive: Ardian nears €2bn target on fourth fund

The French fund manager is eyeing a final close by the end of June.

Paris-based fund manager Ardian hopes to conclude its latest infrastructure fundraising effort during the first half of this year, according to people close to the matter.

The firm held a first close on its fourth fund, which has a target of €2 billion, on more than €1 billion last January. Launched last year, the vehicle is the first to be entirely raised by Ardian since its 2013 spin-out from French insurer AXA.

It is a successor to AXA Infrastructure Fund III, which is now around 80 percent deployed. Fund III reached its final close in March 2013 on €1.45 billion, topped up by a further €300 million committed by limited partners for co-investments.

Ardian declined to comment.

The news comes less than a month after the fund manager teamed up with French lender Crédit Agricole to acquire 49 percent of F2i Aeroporti, a holding company owned by the debut vehicle of Italian firm Fondo Italiani per le Infrastrutture (F2i).

The group controls stakes in Milan Malpensa and Linate Airports (35.7 percent), Naples Airport (70 percent) and Turin Airport (54.5 percent) as well as indirect holdings in Bergamo and Bologna Airports. Ardian has a 60 percent share of the acquiring consortium, while Crédit Agricole owns the remaining 40 percent.

That deal followed the firm’s purchase of a 65 percent holding in Tunels Barcelona Cadi, comprising two Spanish toll roads, from Brazilian bank BTG Pactual last November. The assets continue to be operated by Abertis, which retained its 35 percent stake upon completion of the deal.

Last June, Ardian and Crédit Agricole Assurances finalised their acquisition of a 37.5 percent stake each in parking space operator Vinci Park. Sources close to the €1.96 billion deal say it provided a test case of Ardian’s ability to deploy money as an independent entity, paving the way for the current fundraising effort.

The firm’s 20-strong infrastructure team manages about $5 billion of infrastructure assets. It has invested around €3 billion since 2005, including €2 billion, plus €500 million in co-investments, over the last four years.