Mega-funds sweep up capital: Infrastructure mega-funds account for 70 percent of capital raised since 2014

by Sheila Hopkins

Infrastructure mega-funds — those funds raising $2 billion or more — have been responsible for the vast majority of the capital raised each year since 2012 — and this trend shows no signs of ending. In fact, it might even be accelerating.

In the past three years ending Dec. 31, 2016, 96 funds closed with an aggregate total of $162 billion raised. Of that total, 28 mega-funds, or 29 percent of the total number of closed funds, have raised $108 billion, or 67 percent of the capital. If you add in the funds closed so far in 2017, you come up with 102 funds closed since Jan. 1, 2014. Of those, 33 mega-funds were responsible for 70 percent of the capital raised.

Looking back to earlier three-year periods, it is obvious that mega-funds are consolidating their dominance. During the three-year period ending Dec. 31, 2014, mega-funds were responsible for 60 percent of the capital raised. During the following three-year period ending in 2015, mega-funds brought in 62 percent of the capital. And now they are up to 67 percent and possibly heading past the 70 percent line, if 2017 early closings — particularly the $15.8 billion Global Infrastructure Partners III fund  — are any indication.

When looking at the average size of infrastructure funds, it is no surprise that so few vehicles are responsible for raising so much capital. The size of the average mega-fund during the past three years, including those closed year-to-date 2017, was more than $4.0 billion, while the size of non-mega-funds comes in at about $806 million. Using a .95 confidence-level trimmed average, which removes the top and bottom outliers, those averages come down to $3.7 billion for mega-funds and $788 million for the others. Still quite a gap.

Since 2012, mega-funds have seen their share of capital raised slowly increase, but the absolute amounts of mega-fund capital and non-mega-fund capital have both steadily risen. That trend line was broken in 2016, when the total amount of capital raised was nearly the same as that raised in 2015, but the amount of smaller-fund capital declined significantly. It is too early to tell if non-mega-fund capital will shrink again in 2017, but based on first quarter 2017 closings, it looks like it very well could.

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