Macquarie Plans Fourth European Infrastructure Fund

Australian investor Macquarie is planning to launch a fourth European fund focused on infrastructure deals, Reuters reported. The fund, which will likely exceed 1 billion euro, is expected to launch in the first half of 2011. The firm’s first three infrastructure funds amounted to 1.5 billion euros ($1.98 billion), 4.6 billion and 1.2 billion, Reuters said.

(Reuters) – Australia’s Macquarie group will launch a fourth multi-billion-euro European fund dedicated to the infrastructure sector during the first half of 2011, an industry source told Reuters on Wednesday.

The first three infrastructure funds amounted to 1.5 billion euros ($1.98 billion), 4.6 billion and 1.2 billion.

“The group is going to raise a first tranche privately and, once this is done, will announce the launch of the fund, so most likely in the spring,” the source said, asking not to be identified.

Macquarie declined to comment.

AXA Private Equity, a subsidiary of French insurance giant AXA , told Reuters in September it was raising money for an infrastructure fund in excess of 1 billion euros to focus in Europe with a special focus on Spain. [ID:nLDE6870UO]

Unlisted infrastructure funds reached a total $9.8 billion globally in the third quarter of 2010, the highest quarterly sum since the fourth quarter of 2008, market research firm Preqin said in October. [ID:nLDE69525E]

Australia-based Macquarie started investing in Europe in 2001 and has hired specialised teams to study transport and infrastructure projects.

The group owns 75 percent of Brussels international airport, holds interests in British utility Thames Water and jointly controls French road company APRR with construction specialist Eiffage .

Infrastructure stocks have been hurt by the recession but remain closely monitored by investors.

Among them, banks, insurance groups and pension funds are known to be on the lookout for companies that have long-term prospects and recurring cash flows.

The debt crisis in Europe could potentially trigger a new wave of infrastructure privatisations in the coming months as governments are urged to reduce deficits. ($1=.7566 Euro)
By Matthias Blamont and Gilles Guillaume
(Editing by James Regan and David Cowell)