Portfolio manager leaves UBS as debt fund plans scrapped

09 September 2019 - 12:00 am UTC

UBS portfolio manager Vanessa Lamort De Gail has left the Swiss bank after it scrapped plans to set up a US infrastructure debt fund, according to a source close to the situation.


The departure of Lamort De Gail, who was hired to set up the planned US debt fund, comes after UBS concluded it was too difficult to break into the US market, where infrastructure lending is already dominated by debt funds rather than banks, the source said. This is in contrast to Europe, where banks dominate infrastructure lending but are increasingly being replaced by debt funds.


The market for debt funds in the Americas is a crowded space and will be more crowded in the months ahead. Blackrock has a series of separate managed accounts, with over USD 6bn in assets-under-management (AUM) of funds in the market globally, according to InfraDeals. The former debt head of Blackrock Erik Savi moved over to Carlyle as a managing director to establish a new debt platform with designs on investing in the Latin America market. Meantime, Thomas Murray, formerly of Apollo, landed at I Squared Capital as a managing director to establish a debt platform there.


UBS declined to comment. Lamort De Gail could not immediately be reached for comment.


Lamort De Gail joined UBS from Deutsche Bank in 2017 and was “tasked with starting up an infrastructure debt fund capability in the US,” according to UBS. Previously she spent six years at Deutsche Bank, where she was also based in New York, specialising in debt investments in infrastructure and energy in the Americas.


UBS’s global infrastructure team, part of its Real Estate & Private Markets (REPM) business, is led by London-based Tommaso Albanese. It has three infrastructure funds targeting investments globally and two debt funds focused on Western Europe.


UBS last year appointed Perry Offutt as its head of infrastructure for the Americas region, bringing the REPM infrastructure team to more than 30 staff globally. Previously he was at Macquarie Infrastructure & Real Assets.


Businesses UBS’s infrastructure debt funds have invested in include the European car park operator Q-Park and the Scandinavian ferry business Scandlines.


European debt funds that have entered the US infrastructure market include DWS, which has provided loans for projects including the Freeport LNG Train Two liquified natural gas export terminal in Texas and MEAG, whose portfolio includes the Don A Campbell Phase I Geothermal Power Project in California.


Sequoia Investment Management is planning to expand its unlisted debt strategy into the US, having in mid-June the manager registered Sequoia US Infrastructure Income Fund SCSp on the Luxembourg companies register.


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