Amber Infrastructure buys Morrison & Co assets to enter NZ market

11 schools across the country among the assets snapped up by Amber Infrastructure from New Zealand-based Morrison & Co’s PPP-focused Public Infrastructure Partners fund for NZ$200m.

Amber Infrastructure Group has acquired five New Zealand social infrastructure assets from Morrison & Co for NZ$200 million ($127.2 million; €119.5 million).

The assets are all part of the portfolio owned by Morrison’s PPP-focused Public Infrastructure Partners fund and will be fully owned by London-listed investment company International Public Partnerships Ltd, advised by Amber. They include three school PPPs  (comprising six schools in Auckland, three schools in Canterbury, one in Hamilton and one in Queenstown), an Auckland prison and student accommodation at Auckland University of Technology.

The transaction marks London-based Amber’s entry into the New Zealand market.

In a statement, Amber’s head of Asia-Pacific, Vaughan Wallace said: “We have capitalised on our ability to move quickly when opportunities arise to secure a rare investment with a proven track record.

“Our acquisition affords us the opportunity to employ the existing, well-respected New Zealand PPP project delivery team, who have been actively managing these assets. This aligns with our hands-on approach to managing essential infrastructure assets that add value to people and communities at a local level.

“A team on the ground also supports our New Zealand growth plans, enabling us to combine local PPP project capability with our global portfolio expertise to identify and invest in complementary infrastructure assets.”

One of the school PPPs included in the deal – the Hobsonville Point Primary and Secondary Schools – was Morrison’s first investment via its PIP fund, which reached a $160 million close in October 2010 according to Infrastructure Investor data. The fund drew a $100 million commitment from the New Zealand Superannuation Fund.

Morrison executive director Steven Proctor added: “We are pleased to have achieved an excellent return for our investors over more than a decade. We actively managed each of these assets to become fully operational, delivering a range of improvements for their stakeholders and the local communities they serve.”

“We are now able to return capital to our investors and deliver a smooth ownership transition to stakeholders and new lower cost capital providers.”

The firm accelerated its global expansion this year, appointing 14 partners across Asia-Pacific, Europe and the US. It also led a consortium to acquire US fibre infrastructure provider FiberLight for $1 billion, marking the firm’s first investment in the North American digital infrastructure market. The investment was made through its open-end global infrastructure fund, the Morrison & Co Infrastructure Partnership.