Ardian raises largest-ever infra secondaries fund

ASF VIII Infrastructure has already invested 30% of its capital, including acquiring a $1.5bn portfolio offloaded by insurer Northwestern Mutual.

Ardian has overtaken Blackstone Strategic Partners at the top of the list of largest-ever infrastructure secondaries funds.

The Paris-headquartered alternatives manager has hit the $5.25 billion hard-cap on ASF VIII Infrastructure after nine months in market, according to a statement. The fundraise was “significantly oversubscribed” and represents a 3x increase on its 2017-vintage predecessor, which raised $1.65 billion.

ASF VIII Infrastructure was targeting $4 billion, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.

The fund attracted 145 limited partners from the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. These included New York City Employees’ Retirement System, New York City Police Pension Fund, State of Michigan Retirement Systems and Taiwan Life Insurance, according to Secondaries Investor data.

Fund VIII is already 30 percent committed across two secondaries transactions, the statement said. This is understood to include the acquisition of a $1.5 billion portfolio comprising more than 30 positions from insurance company Northwestern Mutual, which Secondaries Investor reported in October.

Fund VIII overtakes Strategic Partners Infrastructure III as the largest infrastructure secondaries vehicle. That fund raised $3.75 billion by final close in 2020.

Ardian’s secondaries team is led by Mark Benedetti, Vladimir Colas, Marie-Victoire Rozé and Jan Philipp Schmitz. The firm’s secondaries assets under management increased by $8 billion in the last 12 months to $63 billion, according to the statement.

Mirroring the wider market, a number of new infrastructure secondaries players have entered the buy-side in the past 18 months. In March, Secondaries Investor reported that Goldman Sachs Asset Management had raised $125.6 million for its debut infra secondaries vehicle. The target is undisclosed.

In April last year, Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets hired former Strategic Partners executive Wandy Hoh to lead the build-out of an infrastructure secondaries team. The firm is understood to be investing off balance sheet.

Real estate and infra/real asset secondaries accounted for a combined 11 percent of secondaries transaction volumes in 2021, equivalent to $14.75 billion, according to Greenhill’s year-end survey.