French Corporations Back Second Energy Venture Fund

Two French corporations, both with expertise in the energy sector, are backing Aster Capital’s second venture capital fund, earmarked to finance start-ups specialising in energy and the environment. The target range is €120m and €150m.

Transport and energy infrastructure company Alstom has joined forces with global energy management specialist Schneider Electric to sponsor the effort. Previously called Schneider Electric Ventures, Aster Capital in 2003 raised a €50m fund, all of which came from Schneider Electric.

Aster Capital invested its first fund in more than 20 companies focused on innovative technologies in energy and the environment in North America and Europe. Looking ahead, Aster Capital plans to continue taking minority interests in start-ups based in Europe, North America and Asia.

Unlike the first fund, the second is open to commitments from outside institutional investors, and a final closing is expected by December 2010. Based in Paris, the fund will receive a total commitment of €70m from its two industrial sponsors: a €30m commitment from Alstom and a €40m commitment from Schneider Electric. The firm may add additional corporate sponsors later in the year, according to managing partner Ignace de Prest.

Schneider Electric and Alstom have significant firepower in the energy sector, with combined revenues of around €30bn. The eight-strong Aster Capital team includes two recent additions from Altsom: investment manager Philippe Hervy and investment partner Alexander Schlaepfer. The team is led by general partner Jean-Marc Bally, who founded Schneider Electric Ventures in 2000.