Ardian takes over Portuguese motorways in €600m deal

The French fund manager has bought out partner Ascendi to get full ownership of Portugal’s second-largest motorway network, spanning 850km.

Paris-headquartered Ardian has consolidated its grip on Portugal’s second-largest motorway network through a €600 million deal with partner Ascendi, a Portuguese developer.

The transaction, which could cost a further €53 million via a variable pricing mechanism, will see Ardian take control of the five motorways owned by Ascendi PT II, as well as two additional toll roads. It also includes the operation and maintenance companies associated with the motorways, which span 850km, mostly in the north of Portugal but also in the Lisbon area.

Ascendi PT II was established last June, when Ardian invested €300 million from its fourth infrastructure fund to acquire a 50 percent stake in the vehicle. One year and roughly €1 billion later, Ardian is ready to take control of the assets:

“We initially invested alongside Ascendi and worked with them closely over the last year. It’s a testament to this relationship and Ardian’s long-term investment strategy based on industrial expertise that we have now been offered to take the operating control of the network,” commented Ardian head of infrastructure Mathias Burghardt.

It is not the first time this year that Ardian has bought out a former industrial partner once it has felt comfortable with assuming full ownership of an asset. In June, the French fund manager paid an undisclosed amount, together with partner Crédit Agricole Assurances, to buy out French developer Vinci from car park operator Indigo.

Earlier this year, Ardian closed its fourth infrastructure fund on €2.65 billion, which it claims is the largest European infrastructure fund raised to date. The vehicle also marks the first time an Ardian infrastructure fund will invest outside of Europe, with 20 percent of the vehicle earmarked for deals in other OECD countries focusing on airports and renewable energy.