AXA Real Estate is to move into direct equity investments in infrastructure next year, according to a source.

Last year, the fund manager began investing in infrastructure debt on behalf of French insurer AXA, but it is understood that activity will be extended to include equity investments.

AXA Real Estate did not comment.

The AXA group has invested directly in infrastructure in the past through AXA Private Equity, which was spun out of the business earlier this year and became Ardian.

At a press briefing this week, chief executive Pierre Vaquier said AXA Real Estate’s infrastructure debt portfolio is currently worth more than €1.5bn and will rise to €2bn by the end of the year in more than 20 transactions.

It is not known if next year’s investment in direct infrastructure will follow a similar strategy to that pursued by the investment manager’s debt arm, which has a focused mainly on existing, brownfield opportunities solely in western Europe. The fund has backed assets with loans up to €500m.

France, the UK, Benelux and the Nordics have been targeted by the debt strategy.

Transportation – in particular roads and airports account for the lion’s share of debt investment, followed by positions taken in the energy sector.

Average maturity of debt underwritten by AXA Real Estate for infrastructure is around 10 years.

AXA’s head of infrastructure Charles Dupont, currently reports to Isabelle Scemama, AXA Real Estate’s head of real asset finance.

The sector is experiencing rising demand from institutional investors, with a queue of capital and areas of infrastructure are becoming increasingly competitive.