Ardian, Meridiam, Antin… financiers are hungry for infrastructure

Large infrastructure projects have become the new obsession of investment companies. The pioneers, such as Antin, Ardian, Meridiam and Infravia, are international successes. They benefited from favorable economic conditions in the 2000s and the rise of public-private partnerships. But these instruments have been questioned.

When he went looking for investors in 2006, his business card read: “Alain Rauscher, infrastructure fund project manager.” The former BNP Paribas banker did not yet have a name for his future management company. However, he was sure of one thing. As his card specified, his project would focus on an idea still new in French finance: making investment capital for infrastructure projects. In other words, financing the creation of essential services for society in sectors regulated by the State – transport, energy, telecommunications – to develop them with a large investment and then sell them to the highest bidder. And, above all, do it in English, that is, with an international ambition.

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Fifteen years later, the “Infrastructure Fund Project” has become Antin Infrastructure Partners, the largest French “infra” fund and a success beyond European borders. the success story d’Antin was such that the group went public last year, with fluctuating results in a turbulent environment ever since. But the procrastination of the markets did not prevent the two founders, Alain Rauscher and the Englishman Mark Crosbie, from carrying out an exceptional operation: they pocketed 100 million euros while keeping 85% of the fund. The company is close to a valuation of 4,000 million euros. A move that left many fund managers in doubt.

Early internationalization

It is true that with 22.4 billion euros in assets under management, Antin is still far from the world leader in the sector, the Australian Macquarie (517 billion euros in assets under management) or the Swedish EQT (71 billion euros). But like Ardian, Meridiam and Infravia, the three French, the three in infrastructure, Antin has managed to put France on the map of managers who matter.

Its success is explained by two strategic choices: being the first to dig the furrow of the[…]

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