It has been a significant 12 months for BlackRock’s infrastructure debt department, with the ascent to the summit of the Infrastructure Investor Debt 15 providing the year with a fitting conclusion.
Early in 2019, the New York-headquartered firm combined its $10.5 billion infrastructure debt platform with its real estate business to create a single real assets debt platform, led by Robert Karnes. The reshuffle was prompted by the departure of Erik Savi, who had been head of infrastructure debt.
As the unified team was created, Jeetu Balchandani was made head of Americas and Asia-Pacific infrastructure debt.
BlackRock ranked second in last year’s inaugural Infrastructure Investor Debt 10. However, it has risen to the top of the pile after increasing its capital raised by more than $1.4 billion, compared with the period covered by the previous ranking.
The majority of BlackRock’s debt AUM is managed through separate accounts. However, the firm also invests through its own vehicles, including its $700 million Global Infrastructure Debt Fund.
2 EIG Global Energy Partners
The Washington DC-headquartered firm took the top spot last time and stays in the upper echelons after raising slightly more – an extra $44 million – than it had in the period covered by last year’s ranking.
It is also only $154 million behind BlackRock but $631 million ahead of third place.
The firm is a major investor in oil and gas operations, power and renewables.
Its flagship EIG Energy Fund XVII held a first close in 2017 and has so far raised $1.9 billion, with a $5 billion target. The fund is currently investing in energy in Western Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific.
Within the period covered by the Infrastructure Investor Debt 15 the firm also closed its $100 million EIG Emerson Partners and its $500 million EIG-Keats Energy Partners debt funds.
The firm completes a one-two punch for the US. The other firms in the top 10 are headquartered in either Europe or Australia, and there is only one other North American name in the Debt 15 – based in Toronto.
3 AMP Capital
AMP Capital is the top-ranked entrant from Asia-Pacific, as it was in the previous ranking. Even more impressively, however, it has doubled its total capital raised and rocketed from fifth to third place as a result.
The Sydney-headquartered firm has a focus on subordinated debt, arguing that mezzanine infrastructure debt can reduce investment volatility and give customers access to strong yielding investments with carefully managed downside risk.
At the tail end of 2019, the firm held a final close on its $4 billion AMP Capital Infrastructure Debt Fund IV – $500 million above its target.
AMP also secured $1 billion in co-investment and an additional $1.2 billion through separate accounts.
AMP raised $5.45 billion for the previous ranking. Its figure this time around is precisely double that, at $10.9 billion. Of that increase, $3 billion came through Debt Fund IV.
4 AXA Investment Managers – Real Assets
AXA holds on to the fourth-place spot, albeit with a healthy $3.4 billion added to its total this time round. The Paris-headquartered firm, which manages investments on behalf of AXA Group and third parties, raised $6.6 billion in 2019 mandates. This contributed to a total of $10.3 billion of direct infrastructure debt investment capital raised between 1 January 2014 and 31 August 2019.
AXA’s infrastructure debt platform was launched in 2013. It held a final close for AXA European Infra Senior I, its debut infrastructure debt fund, on €1.18 billion in 2017. Isabelle Scemama, AXA IM – Real Assets’ chief executive, told Infrastructure Investor last year that one of the biggest challenges is managing the growth of capital available across all asset classes, and that this made it important for the firm to remain disciplined in how capital is raised and strategic in how it is deployed. She noted that AXA IM – Real Assets is interested in all the “classic infrastructure sectors”. AXA European Infra Senior I is currently investing in energy, transport, social infrastructure, renewables and telecoms across Europe.
5 Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets
Rounding out the top five is a second European firm, which has raised $966 million more than it had at the time of the Debt 10.
MIRA is on something of a roll: it is also top of the Infrastructure Investor 50, our ranking of managers by the amount of infrastructure direct investment capital they have raised.
The London-headquartered firm is currently investing through two debt vehicles: the £110 million ($144 million; €130 million) Macquarie Infrastructure Debt Fund (UK Inflation Linked) 2; and the $444 million Macquarie Global Infrastructure Debt Fund, which has held a third close and has a target of $1 billion.
Although the former focuses on the UK, the latter is also targeting Australia and the US.
Macquarie’s debt asset management business was established in 2012 to pursue investments with higher yields than long-term sovereign or high-quality corporate bonds, but with longer durations and lower risk profiles than high-yield debt.