F2i founder joins Quercus as chairman

Italian infrastructure veteran Vito Gamberle comes onboard as the firm prepares to raise a €150m wind fund.

Italian infrastructure veteran and F2i founder Vito Gamberle has become the new chairman of asset manager Quercus Assets Selection, the fund manager announced.

The new hire follows Quercus’ June launch of a €150 million fund focused on building a 300-megawatt (MW) portfolio of Italian wind assets – one of three funds that has emerged recently to focus on southern European renewable assets.

Gamberle is a well-known businessman in Italy whose achievements include the launch of mobile phone operator TIM. For the infrastructure community, he is better known as the man who doubled toll road operator Autostrade per l’Italia’s earning to €2 billion following its privatisation and as founder of Italian infrastructure fund manager F2i, where he oversaw the fundraising of its first €1.8 billion fund.

“We believe we have an exciting platform to become an international leader in renewables and infrastructure investment, and Mr Gamberale’s endorsement says a lot about our strategy and execution capability,” commented co-founder and Quercus chief executive Diego Biasi.

Quercus’ new fund will target institutional investors in Italy and internationally. It will back wind farms that have been operational for between two and five years and which each generate between 20MW to 25MW of electricity. Initially focusing on existing plants in central and southern Italy, the fund will have an investment horizon of 15 years and a target internal rate of return of between 9 percent and 11 percent over the lifetime of the plants.

Like recent funds announced by NextEnergy and Bluefield, Quercus’ new vehicle is a consolidation play, aiming to capitalise on Italy’s status as a highly fragmented, but large wind market (it is the world’s seventh largest).

Quercus, which is advised by London-based Quercus Investment Partners, has two existing funds. The Quercus Renewable Energy Fund was launched in 2010 and owns a portfolio of 11 Italian solar photovoltaic plants generating almost 800MW. Quercus Renewable Energy II was launched in 2011 and invests in “multi-technology” plants across Europe. It has a portfolio of 13 plants diversified by technology and geography which generate more than 120MW.

This article was first published on Low Carbon Energy Investor.