Merigo to head advisory arm of €1.5bn EU fund

Nicolas Merigo, formerly the head of Santander Infrastructure Capital, has been appointed chief executive of Marguerite Adviser, the advisory body that will be responsible for originating investments for the EU’s €1.5 billion Marguerite infrastructure fund. The fund is expected to reach a first close on March 3 2010.

Nicolas Merigo has been named chief executive of Marguerite Adviser, the body responsible for appraising and originating investments for the European Union’s €1.5 billion Marguerite fund.

Nicolas Merigo

For the last two years Merigo has been chief executive of Santander Infrastructure Capital (SIC). SIC manages the Spanish bank’s infrastructure funds and had been raising the €1.5 billion Santander Infrastructure Fund II, which was eventually aborted due to the difficult economic situation, a spokesman from the bank told InfrastructureInvestor last year. Market speculation suggests heavy losses of some €2.3 billion suffered as a result of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme might have contributed to the bank’s decision.

Merigo’s team is expected to start work during the first quarter of this year. The European Investment Bank (EIB) said at the time of the fund’s launch that the advisors will receive performance-based incentives and will be remunerated according to the general principles of long-term performance endorsed by the G20 heads of state.

A management board will be responsible for the overall management of the fund and will be appraised by a supervisory board, headed by Philippe Maystadt, president of the EIB. The European Commission will seek a seat on the supervisory board.

The Marguerite fund launched late last year with €600 million of seed commitments and is aiming to reach its first close on March 3. A final close is targeted for 2011. It aims to provide equity or “quasi equity” to companies which own or operate infrastructure across transport, energy and renewable energy sectors in the EU’s member states. The goal will be to provide them with capital for greenfield construction projects.

A separate debt co-financing pool of up to €5 billion will also be created to provide Marguerite with a source of debt for the projects that it invests in.

The EIB, France’s Caisse des Dépôts, Italy’s Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, Germany’s KfW, Spain’s Instituto de Crédito Oficial and Poland’s PKO Bank Polski – all state-backed banks – are the fund’s core sponsors. Each committed €100 million to Marguerite when it launched.