Palisade Impact hits A$400m first close for maiden fund

The fund has a strong pipeline in place and will focus on the energy transition, the circular economy and digital equity, Palisade CEO Steve Gross tells us.

Palisade Impact, the specialist impact investing platform of Sydney-based asset manager Palisade Investment Partners, has reached a A$400 million ($276 million; €277 million) first close for its maiden fund.

Steve Gross, the firm’s co-founder and chief executive, told Infrastructure Investor that in addition to securing commitments from a largely Australian investor base comprised of superannuation funds, asset managers, foundations and family offices, the open-end Palisade Impact Fund – which launched in January – also attracted investment from two UK pension funds.

The fund has so far deployed capital into two investments. The first was leading a A$20.5 million funding round for Australian next-generation telecommunications infrastructure company GigaComm in June. This was followed by an investment in Australian energy efficiency solutions business Ecosave in July.

According to Gross, the fund has a strong pipeline for the remainder of the capital raised and will continue to focus on three investment themes, namely the energy transition; the circular economy – with a particular focus being the effective use of waste to create value in the form of recycled goods and biogas; and digital equity, ensuring high-speed, low-cost internet connectivity for more Australians. He declined to comment on a specific timeline for the fund’s future plans.

“We have a number of interesting [discussions in progress] across the circular economy and across the energy transition, and we’d hope to close one of those opportunities over the next six months,” Gross said.

“We’re very focused on [our] key themes but we’re also doubling down on downside protection. We want to make sure that investors have really strong returns but we’re looking to mitigate risk in the portfolio as well, especially given the broader uncertainty in the economy.”

Noting the high level of demand among infrastructure investors looking to deploy capital into projects that not only generate high returns but also have a positive impact, he said the firm – which is also backed by the Pinnacle Charitable Foundation and global impact investing consultant Tideline – saw that demand escalate even within the time period since the fund’s launch.

“We found that [demand] really picked up over six months… There are other aspects of this fund that [investors] liked, in particular the differentiated strategy, but certainly the theme of addressing the big challenges of the day around climate, the circular economy and society more generally, is a really big focus [for investors],” he added.

Palisade Impact was established last year, when Gross and co-founder Jeremy Wernert joined forces with Palisade to launch the mid-market focused specialist impact investing platform. Gross was previously the global head of impact investing for Macquarie Asset Management and Wernert was formerly Macquarie Capital’s head of Asia.