Macquarie Joins With Venture Firm to Target Infrastructure

Bloomberg

Macquarie Group Ltd. is teaming up with a New York-based venture firm to spot the next big thing in energy and infrastructure innovation.

The Australian bank will provide specialist knowledge and possibly financial backing for the project with R/GA Ventures, according to a statement Wednesday.

Macquarie’s New York-based program will help develop so-called infratech companies, which typically feature technology and data that can prove disruptive to the energy and infrastructure sectors. Eligible projects include those focused on energy storage and electric-vehicle charging networks. Applications will be accepted throughout the year starting this week.

 “We’re not talking about doing a new technology out of the blue,” Michael Silverton, head of Macquarie Capital Americas, said in an interview. “We’re trying to be at the forefront of infrastructure as the asset class evolves.”

Few banks have pushed into earlier-stage technologies to date. Investec Plc, the South African bank that’s carved out a leading role financing U.S. rooftop solar, last month hired a banker to oversee clean-tech deals in the Americas.

“If we cover all these small companies today, we know we’ll be ready when the industries mature,” Ralph Cho, Investec’s co-head of power & infrastructure in the Americas, said last week.

For Macquarie, the venture studio with R/GA will be a research laboratory that may yield new opportunities. R/GA has a similar partnership with Verizon Ventures, a unit of Verizon Communications Inc.

“It’s the overlap of technology on existing business,” said Stephen Plumlee, R/GA’s Global Chief Operating Officer.

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