AXA hits €730m first close on debut infra debt fund

Five institutional investors have committed to the vehicle, which is hard-capped at €1.5bn and expected to close before next summer.

AXA Investment Managers – Real Assets has reached a €730 million first close on its €1.5 billion European infrastructure debt fund, PDI sister title Infrastructure Investor has reported. 

The French insurer’s real assets unit will seek to provide debt for transport, social infrastructure and telecoms as well as conventional and renewable energy projects.

AXA IM said the European Infra Senior 1 fund has a preference for brownfield assets, although it will likely source both primary and secondary deals. The vehicle will be led by Bertrand Loubières, head of infrastructure finance at the firm. A spokeswoman for AXA IM told Infrastructure Investor the fund is expected to close during H1 2017.

The firm added that the debt platform will look to co-invest alongside AXA IM’s infrastructure finance team so as to be able to participate in larger deals. However, it said the fee structure has been designed to reward performance of assets rather than deal size.

The fund is AXA IM’s first infrastructure debt platform. AXA IM said it has so far secured investments from five institutional investors in Switzerland, Italy and France, including from parent company AXA, although it declined to state the sum invested. The insurer pledged in 2013 to invest up to €10 billion in infrastructure debt until 2018.

“The successful launch of European Infra Senior 1 with an initial €730 million of capital raised underlines the increasing appetite amongst institutional investors for access to a diversified portfolio of tier-one quality infrastructure loans, which are able to deliver longer-term stable income-driven returns in a low interest rate environment,” said Isabelle Scemama, head of AXA IM – Real Assets’ funds group.

As of last month, AXA IM had €3.1 billion invested in infrastructure debt across 35 deals, mostly in transport or energy. Just under half of these investments were based in either the UK or France. They come under the remit of AXA IM – Real Assets’ debt platform, which has €12.7 billion of assets under management.