Eurofer, the Italian railway workers’ pension scheme, has launched a search for private debt fund managers.

The €1bn second-pillar scheme will select one or more closed-end private debt funds, aiming to invest up to €25m, according to a document published on Eurofer’s website.

The investment will be allocated to the ‘Bilanciato’ fund, the largest of its three funds (Garantito, Bilanciato and Dinamico) that the scheme offers. The Bilanciato fund had around €886m in assets as of June this year.

Eurofer said it wanted funds investing mainly in the European Union or the European Economic Area.

Successful bidders would invest primarily in debt financing for infrastructure projects, real estate projects or unlisted real estate companies, the pension fund said.

It expressed a preference for medium-term loans to be held to maturity. The scheme intends to evaluate the risk profile and seniority level of the underlying investments. It aims to obtain a net return of between 5% and 8%.

The funds must comply with AIFMD rules and have a target size of at least €250m.

Consultancy firm Bfinance is assisting Eurofer in the selection process. More information can be found on its website.

Eurofer, an industry-wide scheme, was among the first Italian schemes in its category to invest in real estate when it backed a pan-European real estate fund in 2012.

In 2016, the scheme added to its alternatives portfolio with an investment in a core infrastructure equity fund.

Italian pension funds increased their allocation to alternative assets in general throughout 2017 and managers expect the trend to continue this year.

Private debt investments in Italy grew 35% in 2017, according to AIFI, the Italian private equity, venture capital and private debt association. Last year managers invested €641m, bringing the size of the market to over €1.5bn.