A group of five Italian pension funds that launched the Progetto Vesta to invest assets in infrastructure projects has appointed Eurizon Capital Real Asset as the Alternative Investment Fund Manager (AIFM), the schemes announced today.

The five pension funds – Foncer (the pension scheme for employees in the ceramic industry), Fondo Gomma Plastica (the supplementary pension fund for workers in the rubber, electrical and related cables and plastics sector), Fopen (the pension fund for the employees of energy company Enel), Fondo Pensione Complementare Pegaso (the contractual pension fund for employees in the utilities sector), and Previmoda (the pension fund for the fashion and textile sector) – have committed a total of €168m to invest in alternative investment funds (AIFs) for infrastructure projects.

Foncer is investing €18m in the Vesta project, while Fondo Gomma Plastica is investing €40m, Fopen €30m, Pegaso €40m and Previmoda €40m.

Eurizon will select infrastructure AIFs investing in companies involved in economic, social and renewable energy projects, according to today’s announcement.

The fund manager will deploy the capital mainly in the European Economic Area, with an eye on the Italian market, but with the possibility of diversifying allocations globally, it said.

Eurizon will invest the assets in AIFs in primary and secondary markets, and through co-investments, taking into account ESG factors to reduce investment risk.

The fund manager will carry out the first investment in infrastructure through an AIF under the Vesta project on 6 March.

The pension funds have laid out a plan to diversify investments in eight or nine AIFs for infrastructure projects over a period of four to five years, committing 60% of the capital in the first three years.

The schemes have mandated Eurizon for a period of 15 years to match the duration of the AIFs selected for the investments, according to the announcement.

Italian pension funds have been joining forces over the past few years to reach critical mass of assets to invest in alternatives.

For instance, four of the same industry-wide pension funds – Gomma Plastica, Fopen, Pegaso e Previmoda – started Progetto Zefiro (Project Zephyr) in the summer of 2021, and selectied StepStone Group to invest in private debt through an AIF strategy.

Moreover, Foncer, Fondenergia, Gomma Plastica, Pegaso and Previmoda set up another programme – Progetto Iride (Project Iris) – in 2018 with the goal of building a portfolio of alternative investments.

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