For the second year running, Natixis was awarded a prestigious industry award, being judged as the Best Infrastructure Debt Manager at Insurance Asia News’ Institutional Asset Management Awards 2023.

The judges awarded Natixis IM for a combination of sourcing capability, execution expertise and a highly experienced risk and diligence team, that allowed Natixis IM to complete a number of infrastructure debt transactions on behalf of Asian insurance companies. Countries where team has invested or is about to invest include Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, or New Zealand.

Denis Prouteau, CIO for the Private Debt team at Natixis Investment Managers International, said: “Natixis Investment Managers can collectively be proud of this award, acknowledging the ongoing quality and proximity of Natixis IM’s marketing and investment teams having worked hands in hands in the region for the last 5 years, which year after year is building trust and visibility with our existing and future clients”.

The Hong-Kong based team, with original portfolio managers Angus Davidson (Head of NIMI Hong Kong unit) and Evelyn Chan, have been further strengthened by the arrival of Helene Boursier in 2022, as well as the hiring of a dedicated risk officer Pascal Leccia, operating out of NIM Singapore office.

Out of a variety of investments carried out in 2022, one specific transaction drew attention as a proof of the team’s capacity to identify and structure innovative local financings: Natixis IM structured a 10.5-year HKD 400 million (USD 50 million) debt facility to Widex Group Holdings Limited and Widex Solar Asset Holding Ltd. The loan will be used to finance and/or refinance a portfolio of rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) projects deployed in corporate, industrial and public buildings across Hong Kong. For this deal, Natixis IM Private Debt team acted on behalf of a Hong Kong-based insurance company and identified a regional co-lender (Fubon bank) to complete the financing. The loan complies with the Asia Pacific Loan Market Association’s Green Loan Principles and has received a pre-issuance stage certificate issued by the Hong Kong Quality Assurance Agency under the Hong Kong Green and Sustainable Finance Scheme.

This transaction represents a key milestone for Natixis IM. “Our strong banking background allows us to originate and structure loans and this is a first in the area of green finance in Hong Kong for our team. We are delighted to be building our green credentials with clients at this time”, commented Angus Davidson.

Fabrice Chemouny, Natixis IM’s Head of International Distribution was involved from the start in the Hong Kong Infra debt initiative: “Arranging infrastructure project finance loans in Asia on behalf of an Asian institutional clients were precisely the two strategic objectives behind Natixis IM setting up a regional Infra debt management capacity as early as 2019. This award is the sign that Natixis IM is now considered as a trustworthy regional expert in infrastructure debt, able to address the ever-growing demand for real asset debt in APAC”.

The expected implementation of new insurance regulations inspired by Solvency II in the APAC region (in Hong Kong in 2024 and in Japan in 2025) further validates the set-up of a local team, as a consequent favorable capital requirement combined with the asset class resilience throughout the latest pandemic, inflation and market environment are bound to attract further interest in infrastructure private debt from insurance companies or pension funds.

Natixis IM Honk Kong Private Debt team operates as part of a global private debt team, based in Paris, also managing Infrastructure debt investments outside APAC, as well as aircraft debt and specialty finance investment strategies. These teams have enjoyed a similar development in the last 5 years collecting almost €3bn of investors’ commitments and recently reaching €1bn of assets under management.

“As we now operate globally, I can only notice that our investor base grows in tandem between our European and Asian clients thanks to our capacity to provide the most appropriate expertise based on the localization of the asset, while benefitting from the geographical proximity with the client” says Denis Prouteau. “As such, we have just launched a successor global infrastructure debt fund for a Japanese insurance company, for which either our Hong Kong or our Paris Portfolio managers and risk officers will be involved depending on the country we may invest in”.

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