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BlackRock launches European infrastructure debt investment unit

BlackRock has hired Philippe Benaroya, Chris Wrenn and Gilles Lengaigne to launch a European infrastructure debt investment unit based in London.

The move is in response to institutional client demand to channel capital into new build infrastructure projects and secondary loan investments as they search for increased yield in a low interest rate environment.
The three individuals have worked together as a team for more than 10 years, latterly at Blackstone/GSO. They add their aggregate 50 years of sector and credit expertise to BlackRock’s global capabilities in fixed income and 17-year international track-record in alternatives investing.

BlackRock Alternative Investors (BAI), BlackRock’s global provider of alternative investment strategies, includes hedge funds, real estate, private equity and renewable power. BAI’s 400 investment professionals managed USD113bn of client assets as at 30 September 2012.
European infrastructure debt will focus initially on the needs of financial investors such as insurance companies served by BlackRock’s financial institutions group. The team will help review opportunities to invest in investment grade infrastructure debt assets in sectors such as transportation, social infrastructure and regulated utilities. 
Matthew Botein, head of BAI, says: “Investors are looking for increased yield, and to exploit new investment opportunities resulting from global deleveraging. Alternatives debt financing is a compelling proposition for investors, especially when offered alongside BlackRock’s existing global fixed income, alternative, equity and distribution capabilities.”
Benaroya joins from Blackstone/GSO as a managing director and co-head of European infrastructure debt. He has 18 years of infrastructure and project finance experience, including membership of the International Infrastructure Committee at insurer Financial Security Assurance.
Wrenn has worked in infrastructure and structured finance for over 25 years and joins BlackRock as a managing director and co-head of European infrastructure debt. He spent 12 years with Financial Security Assurance, engaged primarily with financing infrastructure. He also held positions with UBS, MBIA-Ambac International and Blackstone/GSO.
Lengaigne has 10 years’ experience in structured and infrastructure finance and joins BlackRock as a director in European infrastructure debt. Prior to joining BlackRock, he was with Blackstone/GSO Capital Partners where he was a principal of the infrastructure debt group.

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