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First State beefs up Euro infra advisory team

Michiel Boersma, a former chief executive of Dutch utility Essent, has become the fourth senior advisor to First State’s European unlisted infrastructure investments team, which has raised close to €600m for the its debut fund.

First State Investments has appointed Michiel Boersma as senior advisor to its European unlisted infrastructure investments team, First State announced today.

Boersma is the fourth member of an external consulting group to the unlisted infrastructure team, which has managed to raise nearly €600 million for the First State Diversified Infrastructure Fund. He will help First State build “on its recent success, such as strong returns for investors and fund raising,” First State said.

The fourth advisor has almost 40 years of experience in energy and infrastructure. He is currently a non-executive director of Nestle Oil in Finland and chairman of the supervisory board of the Netherlands’ ProRail, among other energy and infrastructure companies in Europe and the US. Boersma was also the chief executive and chairman of the executive board of Dutch utility Essent from 2003 to 2009.

In early September, First State opened its first office in continental Europe, in Paris, and appointed Philippe Taillardat to run the office and co-head First State’s European infrastructure team alongside Danny Latham. Taillardat brings 20 years of infrastructure and project finance experience and had been running his own consultancy prior to joining the asset manager.

First State’s European infrastructure fund has been in the market since 2007. It held a first close on €183 million in August 2009 and a second, €366 million close in June 2010.

Since then, however, the fund has changed its structure from an open-ended investment vehicle – meaning that the fund had no defined term and had the capacity to add on additional investors throughout its life – to a “hybrid” structure. The latter was created by First State earlier this year and will see the vehicle start with a 15-year life and give investors the opportunity to extend its life in five-year blocks.

Sources familiar with the fundraising indicated the fundraising has experienced “great success due to the changes to the fund structure”.