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BlackRock to Launch First LatAm Infra Fund

9 May 2016

(Reuters) BlackRock targets 2016 launch for LatAm infrastructure fund. BlackRock Inc is accelerating its push in Latin America, making plans for its first launch of a private equity infrastructure fund targeting that market.

The launch is anticipated this year, according to the document, an infrastructure investing plan seen by Reuters on Monday.

Such funds typically target large investors who can lock up their initial investments for a decade or more. The size of the fund was not disclosed, and BlackRock declined to comment.

Since its acquisition of Mexican investment company Infraestructura Institucional last year, BlackRock has said it has $1 billion committed by investors and plans to invest broadly across the energy, utility, transportation and communication infrastructure sectors in the region, especially in Mexico.

BlackRock started its infrastructure unit in 2011, and more recently has focused on growth in Latin America. The unit oversees physical property as well as relationships, from construction sub-contractors to government officials.

To date, the unit has been known for specializing in renewable-energy projects and being rooted in developed markets in Europe, the United States and Asia. The company has about $9 billion in infrastructure assets under management overall.

The firm has expanded, hiring foreign executives, including Manuel Sanchez, the former chief executive of Spanish renewable energy company Abengoa. BlackRock now has 26 people currently assigned in the Latin America infrastructure effort.

In its expansion south, BlackRock expects more government policy reforms of the sort that ended Mexico’s decades-old state energy monopoly across the Americas. Mexico’s economy grew more quickly than expected in the first quarter this year, preliminary data showed last month, after uneven U.S. demand and sinking oil prices shook the economy in 2015.

Company executives have said they expect large investors, including pension funds, to boost their stakes in investments such as railroads, pipelines and wind farms in the hope that they will return a stream of cash for pensioners and other investors.

In addition to expanding its Mexico City-based team, BlackRock last year took a joint stake worth around $900 million in a Mexican natural-gas pipeline project with U.S. private equity company First Reserve that is expected to start operating this year.

It is also looking at expanding to other countries, such as Colombia, Peru and Chile, company officials have said. New York-based BlackRock managed $4.7 trillion overall as of March 31.