Meridiam hires Jane Garvey, eyes $1bn for NA

The former head of the US Federal Aviation Administration and advisor to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will join the European PPP-focused infrastructure fund, which is said to be planning a $1bn PPP fund targeting North America.

Jane Garvey, former head of the US Federal Aviation Administration, will be joining Meridiam Infrastructure, the Paris-based public-private partnership (PPP)-focused fund, according to several market sources familiar with the matter.

Garvey’s move will be effective in September. She will be based in the US as a high-ranking member of Meridiam's North American business, according to the sources.

Meridiam was unavailable for comment at press time.

For Meridiam, Garvey’s hire coincides with expansion plans for the North American market. The firm, which already manages a €600 million infrastructure fund with a major focus on Europe, is rumoured to be close to launching a North America-focused PPP fund that could target up to $1 billion.

Jane Garvey

For Garvey, the career move will mark the latest in a prominent career on the public side of the transportation sector. Since January, she has served as a member of President Obama’s transition team, where she served as an advisor to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood – a position for which she was also reportedly considered. Prior to heading the FAA from 1997 to 2002, she served as acting administrator and previously deputy administrator of the Department’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

Garvey’s career hasn’t been solely in the public sector. Prior to joining the Obama transition team, she worked as the head of US PPP and innovative financing for JPMorgan’s Infrastructure Advisory Group, which she joined in May of last year. Prior to that, she worked for public affairs firm APCO Worldwide, where she was executive vice president and chairman of its transportation practice.

Her hire also coincides with a growing North American footprint for Meridiam. In late 2008 and early 2009, the firm obtained positions in four Canadian PPP projects and one in the US, the $1 billion Port of Miami Tunnel project. Each of the positions had been in procurement by Babcock & Brown, the Australian investment bank which earlier this year went into administration.

The firm has also been selected as the preferred bidder alongside Cintra, the Spanish toll road developer, for two major highway development projects in Texas. These include the $2 billion North Tarrant Expressway, which in June reached contract signing, and the $2.4 billion LBJ Freeway project.

And in May, the firm was shortlisted for the Long Beach Courthouse replacement PPP project in San Francisco.

All these projects are so-called greenfield, or new infrastructure developments, which are the focus of Meridiam’s activities within the PPP sector. The firm does not invest in brownfields, or already-existing infrastructure assets.

Other recent hires by the firm include Paul Boucher, formerly a Toronto-based managing director for Babcock & Brown, and Stuart Marks, also a former member of Babcock & Brown.