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AXA IM buys into France’s A63 motorway

The acquisition from InfraRed comes as AXA’s real assets division seeks to complement its property portfolio with a greater exposure to infrastructure.

AXA Investment Managers – Real Assets has bought a 42 percent stake in France’s A63 motorway operator from InfraRed Capital Partners in a joint venture with Crédit Agricole Assurances.

The pair have bought InfraRed’s entire stake in Atlandes, the concessionaire of the motorway. The other members of the Atlandes consortium – which comprises DIF Infrastructure II and Egis projects as well as constructions firms Colas Sud-Ouest, Screg SudOuest, Spie Batignolles and NGE retain the remainder of the asset.

InfraRed will keep an exposure to Atlandes through its listed fund HICL, after the latter agreed to buy 13.8 percent of the company from Colas and Spie Batignolles for €87 million in February. The deal is expected to close early next year.

The 104km motorway, which connects the town of Bordeaux to the Spanish border, reached financial close in 2011. Investment in the project totalled €1.1 billion, including a €400 million upfront payment to the French government.

“The A63 is already a successful and well-managed motorway that demonstrates the importance and positive impact of attracting private investment into major infrastructure projects,” said Ruulke Bagijn, AXA IM’s global head of real assets.

AXA IM added that the deal is in line with its increased focus on infrastructure investments, as part of a strategy it initiated in 2013. The firm hired Bagijn earlier this year towards this end while last month it appointed Mark Gilligan as head of infrastructure equity in a “clear ambition to expand our level of equity investments into the infrastructure sector,” it said at the time.