IFM poaches Barclays infra head for debt team

The Australian fund manager has hired David Cooper to help build out its infrastructure debt team for the UK and Europe. Cooper was in charge of raising Barclays’s debut £500m UK infrastructure senior debt fund, which has been on ice for the better part of a year.

Australia’s Industry Funds Management (IFM) has appointed David Cooper, Barclays’ head of infrastructure and structured project finance team in London, “to lead the expansion of IFM’s infrastructure debt capability into the UK and Europe,” the firm said in a statement today.

David Cooper

Cooper – whose official title at IFM will be director for debt investments – will be based in London and will report to Robin Miller, global head of debt investments. He will also cooperate with IFM’s 12-strong European infrastructure equity team, led by Christian Seymour in London.

The former Barclays head will work closely with IFM’s Australian infrastructure debt team, led by Kevin Lewis, and will eventually be supported by an additional hire, to be announced in a few months, IFM said. 

“This is a key appointment for IFM in a growing and increasingly complex market environment. David has the experience and expertise to leverage IFM’s strong track record in infrastructure debt to deliver tailored mandates for leading pension and other institutional funds,” Miller commented in a statement. “We believe that this is only our first step and we will be ready to expand the team to meet demand,” he added.

It is unclear how Cooper’s departure will affect the fundraising for Barclays’ debut £500 million (€622 million; $812 million) UK infrastructure senior debt fund. Cooper had been bullish about the Barclays initiative, telling Infrastructure Investor last July that the fund would “be competitive compared to a traditional bank solution”. 

He added: “We are able to hold debt for longer periods of time and we can also sponsor a Barclays-only solution, allowing them to bypass the traditional bank club structure.”

Infrastructure Investor understands that fundraising for the Barclays UK debt fund has been on ice for the better part of year, awaiting the outcome of the UK government’s announced consultation on how to finance infrastructure going forward. The consultation is expected to yield results this autumn.

A spokesperson for Barclays did not wish to comment on Cooper’s departure and Cooper could not be reached for comment.

IFM is no stranger to infrastructure debt and has “a 13-year track record of investing in infrastructure debt for long-term institutional investors with A$1.5 billion (€1.2 billion; $1.6 billion) in funds under management in this sector,” IFM said in a statement.

That’s in addition to the A$11 billion in equity infrastructure investments IFM manages out of its global A$35 billion investment portfolio, which also includes investments in Australian equities, debt and private equity.

*To find out more about IFM’s investment plans and its unique ownership structure, click here to read this month’s keynote interview with chief executive Brett Himbury.