IFM opens Berlin office

The Melbourne-based fund manager’s second European office will be headed by Lars Bespolka, who was previously part of the firm’s New York team.

Industry Funds Management (IFM), which manages A$45 billion (€33 billion; $51 billion) on behalf of institutional investors, has launched a new office in Berlin.

Berlin becomes the second European location for the Melbourne-headquartered fund, which has over 20 employees in the London office it launched in 2006. The firm also has offices in Sydney and New York.

Lars Bespolka moves to Berlin from New York, having spent five years at IFM after a 15-year investment banking career.

IFM has also appointed Uwe Franke as a senior adviser for expansion into the German-speaking market. Franke was most recently chief executive of BP Europa before retiring in April 2012. He had previously worked at BP PLC since 1979, giving him over 30 years’ experience in the oil and gas sector.

In Germany, IFM is currently working with portfolio company 50Hertz Transmission, one of four electricity transmission operators in the country, on a €4 billion capital investment programme.

“We see strong potential for investment opportunities in Germany and neighbouring countries over the next few years including regulated gas and electricity transmission and distribution businesses, as well as transport, gas storage and other infrastructure sectors,” said Bespolka in a statement.

“Furthermore, we recognise the significant increased interest in our fund from German investors,” he added.

As well as 50Hertz, IFM currently has four other European assets: Anglian Water, Arqiva and Manchester Airports Group in the UK; and Dalkia Polska in Poland.

The firm has also been expanding its infrastructure debt capability in the UK and Europe following the appointment of David Cooper from Barclays in December last year.

Owned by 30 pension funds, IFM invests in infrastructure, listed equities, private equity and debt on behalf of its clients. It has more than A$14 billion of infrastructure equity assets in Europe, North America and Australia.