EUROPE - Allianz Global Investors (AllianzGI) has set up a team dedicated to infrastructure debt.
The AllianzGI team, which will be led by Deborah Zurkow, will be responsible for establishing a platform to identify and manage investment-grade debt for Allianz and third-party clients.
Zurkow was until recently chief executive at Trifinium Advisors and head of public finance for Europe, the Middle East and Africa for MBIA, a financial guarantee insurance company.
She will be joined by four other executives from Trifinium, who have experience in underwriting infrastructure asset types from regulated utilities to PPPs across Europe.
The move made by AllianzGI comes at a time when insurers, foundations and pension funds are increasingly looking at infrastructure debt investments that offer stable cashflows and risk-adjusted returns.
Andreas Utermann, global CIO at AllianzGI, said: "For investment managers to effectively fill the funding gap created by the retreat of banks from this area of investment, it is critical to have deep expertise in the field of infrastructure debt and the risk profiles of different projects."
According to Zurkow, the projected capital requirements for infrastructure investment are considerable, be they for developing economies building new infrastructure for the first time or OECD economies replacing outdated existing infrastructure.
"In OECD countries alone, annual investment requirements are projected to rise from $700bn (€570bn) to $1trn between now and 2030," she said.
"As we develop this business, we will focus initially on European infrastructure projects. Over time, in line with client interest, we expect to invest further afield."
In other news, the fund management division of Nordea Group, Nordea Investment Management, has entered into a partnership with the Indian firm ICICI Prudential Asset Management Company (AMC) - a joint venture between ICICI Bank and UK's Prudential.
Under the agreement, ICICI Prudential AMC will provide advisory/sub-advisory for Nordea Investment Management's India-focused assets, while Nordea will showcase ICICI Prudential AMC exclusively as its Indian adviser/sub-adviser of choice throughout its retail, private banking and institutional segments across Europe.
ICICI Prudential AMC has already been mandated to provide advisory/sub-advisory services to Nordea's existing Indian fund assets of nearly $250m (€203m).
According to the two firms, the partnership will allow both entities to capitalise on each other's respective strengths in distribution and investment expertise in the Indian and international markets.
Meanwhile in the UK, Friends Life has launched a new investment team, Friends Life Investments (FLI), with £6bn (€7.5bn) of assets under management.
According to Friends Life, the launch of FLI will enable the business to leverage its existing investment capability, investment strategy and asset liability management, and support the growth of core product areas, such as annuities.
The FLI team will manage the group's existing fixed income assets with respect to annuity liabilities, shareholder funds and assets backing other non-profit liabilities.
FLI aims to capture additional assets under management by the end of this year, and further investment classes will be considered as the business grows.
The team, which was launched nine months ago, comprises 15 professionals under chief investment officer Mark Versey and is expected to grow to 20 by the end of this year.
Lastly, the asset manager F&C has launched two new defined contribution, annuity-matching funds.
The F&C Fixed Annuity Conversion and F&C Inflation-Linked Annuity Conversion funds are designed to reduce the annuity conversion risk for members as they buy either level or index-linked annuities.