First State appoints water chief as new European infra director

Nick Grant, until now CEO of Severn Trent Services, bolsters the firm’s infrastructure team following the departure of Phillipe Taillardat last September.

First State Investments has appointed Nick Grant as director of infrastructure investments to its European Direct Infrastructure division.

Grant joins the firm from his role as chief executive of Severn Trent Services, the services unit of the London-listed UK water company, where he has worked since December 2014.

Prior to joining the Severn Trent group, Grant spent eight years in a variety of roles at utility firm Centrica, largely with its British Gas unit, where his work included managing the company’s smart meter infrastructure programme.

Grant’s hire comes nearly eight months after Philippe Taillardat, who served as co-head of infrastructure investments Europe, exited the role after six years in September to “pursue other opportunities”. He was appointed in March as director at European asset manager Conquest Group.

“This is a new hire and not a replacement,” a spokeswoman for the firm told Infrastructure Investor, without providing further details.

Taillardat’s departure came shortly before First State was due to begin a €700 million fundraising for the second series of its European Diversified Infrastructure Fund II. By December, First State had reached the €900 million hard-cap for Fund II. According to sources who spoke to Infrastructure Investor at the time, the fund manager was requesting permission from investors to raise the hard-cap with a view to reaching a final close of up to €1.2 billion this year.

The fund also agreed two further investments in March, taking a 50.1 percent stake in Danish ferry operator Scandlines in a deal, alongside Hermes, worth €1.7 billion in equity. It also agreed to acquire E.ON’s gas grid business in Sweden, adding to a portfolio which already included French district heating firm Coriance and Portuguese wind company Finerge.

The appointment of Grant comes amid a decision announced last month by First State’s owners, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, to list the company on the Australian Securities Exchange by the end of this year.