II 100: Infrastructure’s $800bn club

As all signs indicate growing investor appetite for the asset class, what better time to double our ranking of the world's largest GPs?

From humble beginnings ranking the top 30 infrastructure fund managers in 2010, this year we have expanded our list of the asset class’s top global fund managers to 100 firms for the first time, measuring equity assets raised between 1 January 2016 and 31 August 2021.

This reflects infrastructure’s growing prominence and importance as a destination for capital, with a more diverse range of options for investors than ever before.

A quick comparison of the total amount raised by GPs in our first ranking versus this year tells the story: $96.5 billion in 2010 for the top 30 GPs compared with $479 billion for the top 30 in 2021 – and $791 billion for the top 100, as the asset class continues to edge closer to the $1 trillion landmark.

To take a specific example, the total raised by our number one firm, Macquarie Asset Management – maintaining the grip it has held on the top spot since the II 30 was launched – has more than doubled since our ranking began, from $30.6 billion in 2010 to $75.9 billion this year.

But the most telling signs of infrastructure’s ever-increasing attractiveness as a home for capital appear further down the list, and not just because there are more names.

There are now 18 firms that have raised more than $10 billion in the rolling five-year cycle that the II 100 assesses – in our first list, Macquarie was the only manager to exceed that figure.

Several firms have posted remarkable year-on-year increases in fundraising to improve their positions in the table.

KKR, with several large funds in market, has added more than $24 billion to its total. I Squared Capital has jumped eight places thanks to its large new flagship fund that has helped it add almost $12 billion to its total.

EQT has added more than $18 billion to find itself in the top five, while Argo Infrastructure Partners has jumped straight to 45 after closing a new flagship fund (click here for more on its strategy from founding partner Jason Zibarras and managing director Melannie Pyzik).

The concentration in fundraising at the top of our ranking is still in evidence. Our top two firms, Macquarie Asset Management and Global Infrastructure Partners, raised a far larger sum ($140.7 billion) than all of our bottom 50 firms combined ($95.4 billion).

All this activity, with a greater volume of capital raised for infrastructure than ever before, shows that interest from LPs has remained strong over the past 12 months, notwithstanding the headwinds of covid-19 in many sectors. The asset class is proving itself to be resilient, with reliable cashflows and solid returns for most investments.

It isn’t quite the ‘quantum leap’ in fundraising totals that we saw two years ago, but the result shows that confidence has returned after a relatively subdued 2020.

Of course, with the expansion to 100 firms, we have more new entrants than ever.

And although the list is longer than before, you would still need to raise more than $856 million to displace our 100th-placed firm, Arroyo Energy Investment Partners.

Those entrants are a mix of new faces, experienced mid-market investors, sector or regional specialists and established names in other asset classes that are beginning to expand their interest in infrastructure.

As the infrastructure pie continues to get larger, expect many of these firms to try to further increase the size of their slice. So long as demand from investors remains robust, there should be ample opportunity for the majority to do just that.