BlackRock Names NTR’s Barry to Set Up Renewable Power Unit
Bloomberg : February 28 2011
By Sree Vidya Bhaktavatsalam
BlackRock Inc., the world’s biggest money manager, named NTR Plc’s Jim Barry head of a newly created renewable-power unit as it expands its $110 billion alternative investments division.
Barry, the chief executive officer of Dublin-based NTR, has been appointed chief investment officer of the unit and will bring about 10 NTR professionals with him to BlackRock. He will report to Matt Botein, the head of New York-based BlackRock’s alternatives division, which manages hedge funds, real estate funds and private-equity strategies, the executives said in an interview.
BlackRock, which manages $3.56 trillion, is pushing into renewable-energy infrastructure as clients are seeking investments that don’t move in tandem with the stock and bond markets, Botein said. The company last year organized its hedge funds, private equity and other so-called alternative strategies in a unit led by Botein to expand in a market that has $5 trillion in assets.
“Alternatives will gain allocations from investors, as they look for more uncorrelated streams of returns,” Botein said in an interview. “Renewable power gives them exposure to real returns as well as high-quality inflation protection.”
Barry’s move is part of a “strategic relationship” between NTR and BlackRock, the firms said. NTR will provide market “perspectives and insights” to the renewable-power investment team and will also retain an undisclosed economic interest in some products housed within the unit. Over time, the team headed by Barry plans to expand to about 25 people.
NTR said Michael McNicholas, chief operating officer of NTR, will take over Barry’s role as chief executive officer.
Founded in 1978, NTR was formed to operate Ireland’s first toll road. Since then, the company has expanded into wind and solar energy as well as biofuels. NTR has invested in companies including Green Plains Renewable Energy, an ethanol producer based in Omaha, Nebraska, and Wind Capital Group, which operates wind farms in Missouri.
NTR is a public company, although its shares aren’t listed on any public exchange. The shares are traded through the company’s stockbrokers.
The recent increase in oil prices, prompted by unrest in the Middle East, underscores the need for more sustainable sources of energy, Barry said in an interview from Dublin.
“There’s a fundamental insecurity in our current model of energy in that it comes from hugely unstable parts of the world,” Barry said. “That’s exacerbated by fundamental demand- supply issues, and we can’t move away from it.”
Barry was appointed CEO of NTR in June 2000, after previously serving as assistant chief executive.
BlackRock, co-founded in 1988 by Laurence D. Fink as a bond shop, has built its alternatives division mainly through acquisitions. Its 2006 acquisition of Merrill Lynch & Co.’s investment unit, intended to boost the firm’s stock-fund assets, added some private-equity funds of funds, which farm out capital to a mix of different buyout partnerships.
BlackRock more than three years ago acquired the hedge fund of funds business from Quellos Group LLC. The 2009 acquisition of Barclays Global Investors, which helped BlackRock add the iShares exchange-traded funds, also gave it some hedge funds.
The NTR collaboration represents BlackRock’s “first significant foray” into real assets, Botein said.