Ex-TIAA-CREF executives target up to $2 bln for infrastructure fund

  • Money floods into infra sector from LPs
  • Upper Bay targets middle-market infrastructure
  • Several pending deals to be seed assets in debut fund

Two former TIAA-CREF executives are targeting up to $2 billion for a debut fund that will invest in North American middle-market infrastructure, sources told Buyouts.

Marietta Moshiashvili and Mario Maselli launched Upper Bay Infrastructure Partners earlier this year. Both of them worked together over the past decade in TIAA-CREF’s direct equity infrastructure effort.

Upper Bay has made several exclusive transactions that will become seed assets for the fund, the sources said. Third-party investors are currently considering the fund, sources said.

A large part of the fund’s exposure will be in growth-oriented infrastructure investments, with a smaller part of the focus on mature, stable assets, the people said.

Fund I will have a five-year investment period and a 12-year term with three one-year extensions, the people said. Infrastructure assets generally have longer hold periods than buyout funds.  

Upper Bay focuses on four areas of investment: transportation, power, telecom and midstream oil and gas assets like pipelines and storage facilities.

The infrastructure sector has seen a resurgence in recent years from limited partners who like the lower-risk, longer-term aspects of the asset class.

Last year, 86 infrastructure funds raised a total of $73 billion, according to alternative assets data provider Preqin. That’s the highest fundraising tally since at least 2000, Preqin said.

Other infrastructure groups raising funds this year include Blackstone Group, which is targeting up to $40 billion for an infrastructure pool. Just this week, I Squared Capital announced it had closed its second infrastructure fund on $7 billion and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts said it closed its third infrastructure fund on $7.4 billion. And only two months earlier, Stonepeak Partners said it had closed its third fund on $7.2 billion.

Moshiashvili, who is CEO and managing partner of Upper Bay, ran and built the direct infrastructure equity program at TIAA-CREF and more recently for TIAA-CREF unit Nuveen Investments. TIAA-CREF acquired Nuveen in 2014. Moshiashvili joined TIAA-CREF in 1997 as an associate in its Private Placements Group. She was a managing director of at TIAA-CREF and served on the boards of multiple infrastructure companies when she left in September 2017, according to her LinkedIn profile

Maselli spent 10 years at TIAA-CREF and was managing director of Energy & Infrastructure Investments when he left in March of this year, according to his LinkedIn profile. He has served on the boards of several companies, including EIAA, Capistrano, Advanced Power, Vantage and Data Bank, the profile states.

Action Item: Mario Maselli can be reached at mariomaselli@gmail.com, according to his LinkedIn profile.