Ardian backs F2i through €150m secondary transaction

The deal will see the AXA spin-off become a shareholder in the Italian firm’s management company, just days after the duo jointly invested in the country’s second-largest gas utility.

Paris-based Ardian has acquired €150 million worth of units in Fondo Italiano per le Infrastrutture, the first vehicle managed by Italian infrastructure specialist F2i.

The transaction, which closed yesterday in Milan, will see Ardian buy commitments from US lender Bank of America Merril Lynch equal to 15.9 percent of the fund’s A units and 8.10 percent of its total size. Fondo Italiano per le Infrastrutture reached its final close in 2008 on €1.852 billion.

As part of the deal, Ardian will also acquire 9.9 percent of F2i’s management company, as well as hold a seat on the board.

The news comes as F2i continues to raise its second vehicle with a target of €1.2 billion. The fund, which passed the €610 million mark last June, is now 25 percent invested.

The announcement follows a joint deal by both firms, which bought an additional 14.8 percent stake in Enel Rete Gas, Italy’s second-largest gas distributor, on Monday. They previously owned an 85.1 percent stake in the business.

The fund managers have teamed up on other occasions in the past, acquiring G6 Rete Gas – the Italian gas network of France’s GDF Suez – and E.On Rete – that of Germany’s E.On – in 2011.

The deal caps a momentous year for Ardian, after the firm completed its spin-off from parent insurer AXA in September. It is currently investing its Infrastructure Fund III, which closed on €1.45 billion – plus €300 million earmarked for co-investments – in March. The fund had a €1.45 billion target.

In other news, Ardian today signed an agreement to acquire an additional 5 percent stake in CLH Group, Spain’s largest oil storage network. The firm, which bought its initial 10 percent holding in CLH in 2011, is now the largest shareholder in the business.