Toll-road ace tapped for Blackstone infrastructure arm

The New York firm has asked Trent Vichie of Macquarie Securities to lead Blackstone’s newly unveiled developed-infrastructure business. Vichie, an Australian national, was instrumental in the Chicago Skyway transaction, a landmark US toll road privatization.

Trent Vichie, a division director for Macquarie Securities, has been tapped to lead The Blackstone Group’s new infrastructure fund management business, according to multiple industry sources. Blackstone declined to comment.

It is unclear if Vichie has begun work yet at the New York alternative investment giant.

Blackstone revealed in an investor call earlier this month that it intended to launch an infrastructure investment business, along with a new cleantech business to be led by James Kiggen, who is lining from asset manager AllianceBernstein. On the call Blackstone executives did not identify who would head the infrastructure group.

Vichie, an Australian national who graduated from Macquarie University in 1996, in 1999 joined Macquarie, a pioneer in public-private partnerships within the infrastructure space. Vichie has worked on a number of landmark transactions in the US, which is viewed as being somewhat behind Australia and Europe in infrastructure privatizations.

He was instrumental in the 2005 privatisation of the Chicago Skyway, a toll road. The $1.83 billion deal was the first privatization of an existing toll road in the US. He also worked on Macquarie’s privatization of the Indiana Toll Road as well as on the bidding for the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Vichie has also worked on rail, airport and other transportation-related financings.

Blackstone said in the call that its infrastructure business would target deals in North America and Europe. A source close to Macquarie said that Vichie had left for Blackstone. 

A number of major private equity firms have recently added infrastructure to the line-up of targeted strategies. Kohlberg Kravis Roberts recently brought on board former Lazard banker George Bilicic to lead a new infrastructure division, which will target roughly $5 billion for a debut fund.

The Carlyle Group and 3i are two other firms to have launched infrastructure initiatives recently. Investor demand for exposure to relatively inflation-proof infrastructure assets has led to a fundraising boom within the infrastructure market, with much of the activity centered on funds that bear many similarities to private equity limited partnerships.