Oaktree changes tack, markets sector-specific infra funds

The firm’s debut $2bn infra fundraise – which had garnered $409m – will be repositioned into a US transportation fund and a North America-focused energy fund.

Oaktree will reposition its debut infrastructure fundraise into two separate vehicles, including the “first and only US-dedicated transportation infrastructure fund”, the firm’s chief executive said during a quarterly earnings call on Thursday.

The firm will begin marketing the transportation fund this quarter while concurrently launching a fund focused on energy investments in North America, Oaktree chief executive Jay Wintrob said. Wintrob would not give a target size for the fund, but said the firm is “optimistic about our fundraising potential over the next 18-month period”.

Oaktree began marketing its infrastructure fund following its June 2014 acquisition of Highstar Capital. At the time, Infrastructure Investor reported that the firm targeted $2 billion for the fund. The fund had raised $409 million in capital committed at the close of the first quarter, according to the firm’s earnings statement.

During the fundraise, Wintrob said, Oaktree saw LP demand for a fund targeting transportation assets. “It is with that information that we went back, examined it internally, and decided to come out and relaunch two sector-specific funds,” he said. “In both categories, we think the demand is very large.”

With President Trump promising legislation to spur up to $1 trillion in infrastructure spending, Wintrob said Oaktree is optimistic about the sector’s opportunity.

“You have to have been in a cave for some period of time not to have seen an acceleration of media coverage and discussion about the infrastructure opportunity,” he noted. “The need for infrastructure investment, especially in this country, is pretty well-documented.”

The energy fund will invest in power and midstream infrastructure in North America, where Wintrob predicted a “surge of activity”.

Oaktree holds just over $100 billion in assets under management.