Ardian enters Chile’s transport sector with toll road investment

The deal marks the French firm’s first investment in the Latin American transportation sector and the first in the region for the $800 million Ardian Americas Infrastructure Fund IV.

French investment firm Ardian has partnered with a Chilean fund manager to purchase a minority stake in two toll roads near Santiago from Brookfield Infrastructure Partners.

The deal marks Ardian’s debut investment in Latin American transport and is the first in the region for the $800 million Ardian Americas Infrastructure Fund IV. Together with Chilean investor CMB Prime, the French firm has acquired a 33 percent interest in two toll assets with concessions expiring in 2033 and 2036.

The 18 mile (29km) Vespucio Norte Express and the 2.5 mile (4km) Túnel San Cristóbal are at the “heart of mobility” in Santiago, according to Juan Angoitia-Grijalba, a senior managing director at Ardian. Vespucio Norte is the northern portion of an expressway that circles Santiago, while Túnel San Cristóbal connects two densely populated districts in the Chilean capital.

“These toll assets are key elements in moving around Santiago,” Angoitia-Grijalba told Infrastructure Investor. “If you want to move from one part of the city to another, you either go through streets and traffic lights, or you use these toll roads. We believe the legal framework and concession system in Chile is stable, so we’re very comfortable with these assets.”

Brookfield purchased the assets in 2011 in a $319 million transaction. In January, it sold a 33 percent stake to an infrastructure fund managed by Frontal Trust, a Chilean investment firm specialising in alternative assets.

Ardian’s debut Americas fund closed in May 2018 and is focusing primarily on investments in North America, Chile and Colombia. In June 2018, the firm opened a new office in Santiago to serve as a regional hub as it targeted opportunities in Latin America. Ardian is planning to make six to seven investments through its Americas fund.

Other assets in the Americas fund portfolio include LBC Tank Terminals, which is headquartered in Belgium though its main activities are based in the US cities of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Houston, Texas. Part of this investment was financed through Ardian’s fourth European fund.

However, Skyline Renewables, a US-based renewables platform launched in partnership with Transatlantic Power Holdings in 2018, was financed exclusively through the Americas fund.

Ardian made its first investment in Chile in 2016 when it paid $31 million for an 81 percent stake in Solarpack, a Spanish developer managing three solar projects in Chile and one in Peru.