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Former KKR execs pull in nearly €1B for debut infrastructure fund

Leah Hodgson

Asterion Industrial Partners, the new outfit set up by a trio of erstwhile KKR executives, including the former global co-head of KKR's infrastructure business, has raised €901 million (around $998 million) of its maiden fund. The Madrid-based firm, which sailed past its €850 million target in less than a year, will target middle-market investments across Western Europe, mainly in the telecoms, energy & utilities and mobility sectors.

The GP has made three investments since launching last year. In March, it acquired French energy company Proxiserve alongside Mirova for a reported €720 million. The firm also agreed to buy 11 data centers from Spain's Telefónica in May for €550 million.

The fund is one of the biggest first-time infrastructure vehicles to be raised in Europe, per PitchBook data, just behind Luxembourg-based Cube Infrastructure Managers' €1.08 billion inaugural fund, which closed in 2010. However, Asterion's fund is still open for a select number of investors who are in the process of completing additional subscriptions; it is expected to close before the end of the year. A spokesperson for the firm credited the firm's investment strategy for the rapid pace of fundraising:

"For us, infrastructure is not only defined by the type of asset that you're buying, but it needs to tick the box on some other things. It should not be correlated with the economy and it should have strong downside protection coming from stable cash flow that you can predict, maybe because you have a long-term contract or because you're protected by regulation or by your position in the market," the spokesperson told PitchBook.

"What's really important is focusing on the markets where we already have experience [and] where our partners know where they can understand the deals and the environment," they explained. "The team has a strong financial background but [also an] industrial or operational background, meaning that they have spent many years at positions in corporates in the industry like the ones we're investing in now."

They added: "So, that gives you a sense of how these companies are run [and] what they can or cannot do to better understand the businesses. We think this is very differential and very important to how you approach the investment and especially relevant for origination and for value creation."

The pedigree of Asterion's founding partners likely contributed to the success of its first fundraise. Its CEO and co-founder Jesús Olmos Clavijo launched the business with over a decade of experience as the global co-head of KKR's infrastructure team. He was also formerly CEO of Spanish utility giant Endesa. Both of Olmos Clavijo's partners also worked at KKR. Winnie Wutte was director and product specialist for the infrastructure & private equity unit in Europe, while Guido Mitrani served as a director at KKR Infrastructure, investing €4.5 billion across the continent during his tenure. 

Asterion's fundraise reflects the growing popularity of infrastructure as firms raise record amounts of capital in short periods. This year has been a record for European vehicles in the space, with firms raising nearly €25 billion so far despite the fund count falling to a decade-low of five, per PitchBook data.

The largest of 2019 came from EQT, which closed its fourth infrastructure capital pool on €9 billion in March after launching in September 2018. The same month, Paris-based Ardian secured €6.1 billion in less than six months for its fifth fund focused on the industry. And it's not just European investors targeting opportunities on the continent. In June, New York's Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets topped the €5 billion target for its sixth European infrastructure vehicle by €1 billion.

Featured image via Jackie Niam/iStock/Getty Images Plus
 

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