Legal & General eyes equity deals amid new hire

Marija Simpraga replaces Declan O’Brien as infrastructure strategist following his departure to UBS in October.

Legal & General Investment Management is eyeing a push into the infrastructure equity market following the hiring of Marija Simpraga as its new infrastructure strategist.

Simpraga has joined the team from her role as a research associate on European utilities at Bloomberg, focusing on clean energy and infrastructure equity investments. Her arrival is a return to LGIM, having served as ESG analyst for a year in 2012.

Simpraga replaces Declan O’Brien, who departed from the strategist role to join UBS’s infrastructure team as a senior analyst in October. Her remit was described by an LGIM spokeswoman as “more extensive” than O’Brien’s, with the group planning an expansion in clean energy and transport projects.

LGIM last month provided close to £300 million ($402.7 million; €343.2 million) of acquisition debt to Danish pension funds PFA and PKA as part of their deal to buy 50 percent of the 660MW Walney Extension offshore wind farm in the UK. The firm also supported Equitix, HICL and Infrared’s purchase of the HS1 concession in July with £120 million debt. However, LGIM is now looking to diversify its infrastructure portfolio.

“Following our first investment into UK offshore wind, we have a strong appetite for future investments across a range of sectors,” said Rob Martin, director of research. “We are also looking to expand into the equity side of the market and Marija’s experience will prove invaluable.”

Simpraga is LGIM’s latest addition to its infrastructure team following the hiring of Tom Sumpster as head of infrastructure finance in March. The investment management arm of the UK insurer also sealed its first US renewables transaction this year, refinancing a portfolio of 59 solar panel installations.