Exclusive: CalSTRS cheque takes Ardian Fund IV to €2.65bn

The French fund manager has brought in €900m from first-time LPs with re-ups from existing investors exceeding the €1.45bn raised for its previous fund.

A hefty commitment by the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) has helped Ardian reach its revised hard cap on its latest infrastructure vehicle, according to people with knowledge of the fundraising.

The Paris-based firm today announced the final close of Fund IV on €2.65 billion, which it says makes it the largest European infrastructure fund ever raised.

Yet Ardian had been on the verge of reaching the milestone since at least September, when Infrastructure Investor first reported that the firm was only weeks away from closing the fund. Sources told Infrastructure Investor that the timeline was then extended so as to allow CalSTRS to participate, which they said had to be validated through a lengthy internal process.

Ardian declined to comment. CalSTRS couldn’t be reached for comment at press time.

The Californian pension is only but one of a number of new investors that helped Ardian surpass its €2 billion original target, according to a statement by the firm, which added that more than €900 million came from first-time limited partners in its infrastructure funds.

“There was a break-through in take-up from US investors, illustrating the attraction of the mature European infrastructure market,” Ardian said.

Sources with knowledge of the firm told us that Fund IV’s hard cap had been revised several times since the vehicle’s 2014 launch, when it was set at €2.3 billion. The amendments had been deemed necessary to account for considerable “investor pressure”, the people said.

Fund IV is the first to be entirely raised by Ardian since its 2013 spin-out from French insurer AXA. The firm claims that re-ups from existing investors exceeded the size of Fund III, which closed in March of that year on €1.45 billion plus €300 million earmarked for co-investments. Investors in Fund IV also include the Public Employees Retirement Association of New Mexico.

Having backed four assets last year, the vehicle is already nearly 40 percent deployed. Its portfolio so far comprises an Italian airport holding, a Portuguese toll road operator, the largest Spanish oil storage and transportation company, and France’s strategic oil storage business.

Ardian last year also opened new offices in Madrid and San Francisco in a bid to expand its relationships with existing and prospective investors, corporate connections and financial partners.