Ardian cements US presence with renewables JV and wind acquisition

The new platform created with Transatlantic Power Holdings buys a 60MW project in Texas, as the French fund manager nears a final close on its inaugural Americas fund.

Ardian and Transatlantic Power Holdings have teamed up to create Skyline Renewables, a US-based platform aiming to build a 3GW portfolio of operating and greenfield renewables assets within five years.

The new joint venture, in line with Ardian’s increasing focus on US infrastructure opportunities, has already acquired its first asset – purchasing the cash equity interest in the 60MW Whirlwind project from RES Americas, as well as JP Morgan’s tax equity interest in the Texas project.

TPH’s senior leadership will manage Skyline, according to a statement. Former Iberdrola Renewables president Martin Mugica, along with private investors including Lorenzo Roccia, founded TPH in 2016. Mugica will serve as Skyline’s chief executive and Roccia will serve as chairman.

It is Mugica’s record of building Iberdrola Renewables into one of the largest North American clean energy developers that helped attract Ardian to the partnership, Stefano Mion, co-head of Ardian Infrastructure US, told Infrastructure Investor.

“We are excited to leverage its deep industry expertise and considerable relationships for sourcing and pursuing new investment opportunities in the North American renewables sector,” he said, referring to TPH and its team.

Mion did not disclose the cost of this deal or Ardian’s stake in Skyline. He also declined to comment on which of Ardian’s infrastructure funds invested in the wind project, due to ongoing fundraising.

Ardian is in the process of raising its inaugural Americas infrastructure fund, targeting a final close on $750 million later this year. According to Infrastructure Investor data, the fund manager had raised $550 million at the end of February. Once the Americas fund reaches final close, Ardian is set to launch its fifth European infrastructure fund, with a €4 billion target.

The investment firm manages and advises on $67 billion of assets and invests across infrastructure fund of funds, direct funds, real estate and private debt. The firm’s infrastructure group has made it clear that expansion into North and South American infrastructure markets is a strategic priority.

“We reached the top in Europe, growing step by step,” Mathias Burghardt, Ardian’s head of infrastructure, said in an interview last October. “The US now is our next challenge, for us and also for the younger generation.”

Last September, the firm closed what it considers its first US investment – a 35 percent acquisition of LBC Tank Terminals, a company headquartered in Belgium with the majority of its operations in Houston and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

While Skyline’s Texas wind acquisition is Ardian’s first US renewables deal, it is not its first in the Americas. In 2016, Ardian purchased an 81 percent stake in four solar projects in Chile and Peru for $31 million.