InfraVia adds line of business with launch of €300m growth fund

The fund manager believes there is ‘immeasurable opportunity in the infratech ecosystem’ which it aims to capitalise on by investing in tech companies at the scale-up stage.

Paris-based InfraVia Capital Partners is adding a new line of business to its offering with the launch of the InfraVia Growth Fund, targeting €300 million.

“We realised there’s immeasurable opportunity in the infratech ecosystem,” Bruno Candès, a partner at the firm, told Infrastructure Investor.

He added that InfraVia had been researching the sector for the past 12 months: “We have found that there are a lot of tech companies that are maturing and nearing profitability but that need growth capital to scale up and become true industrial global platforms. That’s very much what we’re aiming to develop around our infrastructure ecosystem.”

According to a statement, the types of businesses the InfraVia Growth Fund will target are leading tech companies operating in sectors in which the firm has historically invested, such as mobility, logistics, telecoms, utilities, health and energy. “It’s essentially something that is on the edge of what we do with a tech component,” Candès explained.

Asked whether InfraVia expected its existing LP base to commit to the new fund, Candès acknowledged it was too early to say. “But I think there is an interest from the general market to invest in these types of funds because everyone understands the importance of the digital and tech sectors and wants to gain exposure to them,” he noted.

He also referred to a recent French government initiative, announced by President Emmanuel Macron last month, aimed at raising €5 billion from private sector investors to provide late-stage funding for domestic tech companies. The announcement came after a report commissioned by the government and prepared by Philippe Tibi, a professor of economics at the Ecole Polytechnique, found that many start-ups in France faced difficulties in securing financing for more advanced stages of development. “That is the gap we’re trying to fill,” Candès said.

To that end, InfraVia is building a dedicated 10-member team led by three new partners. Alban Wyniecki and Guillaume Santamaria have both joined from Idinvest Partners, another Paris-based private equity firm. The third partner leading the team is François Auque, who chaired Airbus Ventures’ investment committee between 2016 and 2018, and who spent 16 years as chief executive of Airbus’s space division.

“Institutional investors are ready to support our initiative to back emerging champions in the tech space,” Auque said in the statement. “It is vital for France’s and Europe’s technological sovereignty.”

In August, the Financial Times and Politico reported that the EU planned to launch a €100 billion sovereign wealth fund to invest in companies that could compete with US and Chinese tech giants such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Alibaba. According to the reports, an internal EU document said: “Europe has no such companies. This presents a risk to growth, jobs and to Europe’s influence in key strategic sectors.”