Macquarie goes Green

For anyone wondering whether green investing is really a sound proposition for infrastructure investors, Macquarie Group’s latest hire certainly lends weight to those who believe it is (see our green infrastructure coverage, starting on p.14).   

Green: not
about risk

Last month, the Australian investment bank – at A$116 billion ($107.9 billion; €74.4 billion) in infrastructure assets under management, still the largest investor in the field – unveiled a new head for renewable energy infrastructure investing in North America. 

Bill Green will spearhead the effort for Macquarie Capital Funds, the investment bank’s funds management business.

He's qualified for the job in more than name only. The investment veteran spent seven years at VantagePoint Venture Partners, a $4.5 billion venture fund, where he co-founded its clean technology investment practice.

“I see my move to Macquarie as very much an analogue for the industries themselves,” he says. That is, as various forms of clean technology have matured and become more bankable, they have steadily attracted broader and deeper investor interest. So it’s no longer just venture capitalists looking to fund companies in the renewables sector.

Still, his venture capital background will serve him well in his new capacity, he says, because it has given him “a certain kind of pattern recognition” for bankable technologies in the sector.

“In venture capital, you expect a certain percentage [of investments] will not pan out,” he says, because one technology or another may not end up being commercially viable. “In infrastructure, you do not take technology risk,” he adds, and having learned to distinguish the risky from the safe, he’s eager to help put the knowledge to work for Macquarie.

Among his career investments was BrightSource Energy, a developer of utility-scale solar projects which raised $160 million across three rounds of venture financing thanks to a syndicate of investors corralled by VantagePoint.

Which is not to say that Macquarie is about to start backing early-stage solar developers and sticking them in infrastructure funds. Macquarie, says Green, will continue to focus on “traditional infrastructure-oriented investment at the project level”.