General Atlantic builds impact heavyweight with Actis acquisition

The combined platform will offer climate solutions investments in both infrastructure and growth equity.

London-based infrastructure manager Actis is set to be acquired by General Atlantic in a move that immediately establishes the US private equity firm as one of the world’s largest managers of impact capital.

The deal will see Actis, which employees more than 350 people and manages around $12.5 billion of assets, become the sustainable infrastructure arm of GA. GA’s assets under management will rise to approximately $96 billion should the transaction receive regulatory and antitrust approval.

“Addressing the global paradigm shift toward sustainability requires an economic transformation and a capital investment on a massive scale,” GA CEO Bill Ford said in a statement. “With the addition of Actis, we are taking a significant step forward to add a sustainable investment capability which positions General Atlantic to capture this opportunity set for our investors.”

Actis has established itself as a prominent impact manager, with its extensive activities in emerging markets reflecting its DFI roots. Last year, the firm ranked second behind Brookfield in New Private Markets’ Impact50 list, having raised over $10 billion towards impact strategies in the last five years.

GA has moved into impact, having founded its own climate platform, BeyondNetZero, in 2021. Its first fund closed in late 2022 with around $2.6 billion in capital from external investors, combined with around $900 million in capital from GA’s flagship growth equity programme. In total, the two firms’ combined “Impact 50” five-year fundraising total would be approximately $12.6 billion over the last five years.

Actis will “retain independence” over its funds, according to the statement, and will continue to market products under its own branding. Torbjorn Caesar will continue as chairman and senior partner.

Despite both sides having developed climate platforms, their differing asset classes mean that Actis will be able to pursue its own impact goals without stepping on any toes, according to Actis head of investor solutions Neda Vakilian.

“They’re at the growth equity end of climate, which is the early stage of the gateway to quite a lot of opportunities for us,” she told NPM. “We are GA’s sustainable infrastructure arm and it’s a plug and play, so there’s no overlap. It’s sort of distinct but complementary strategies.”

Team structure

The merger also leaves GA with two well-stocked sustainability teams. Actis’s website lists six people for whom sustainability is a specific focus, led by head of sustainability and vocal market figure Shami Nissan. GA has a sustainability team led by ESG head Cornelia Gomez, who joined from PAI partners in 2022. BeyondNetZero’s team is made up of 17 investment professionals.

There are no plans to consolidate either firm’s sustainability teams following the acquisition. “Quite the opposite,” said Vakilian when asked whether the merger would reduce the size of Actis’s sustainability function.