DIF doubles up on Irish roads

The Dutch fund manager has bought majority stakes in the M3 and M4 via its penultimate fund, which is now fully deployed.

Amsterdam-based DIF has closed two deals that will see it become the majority shareholder in two Irish toll roads.

The first transaction involves DIF acquiring an additional 46 percent stake in the M4, bumping up its share in the asset to 80 percent. The fund manager initially invested in the road in 2013.

The M4 reached financial close in 2003 and became operational in 2005. Also dubbed Kinnegad and Kilcock, it is 39km long and is the main link between the Dublin and Galway motorway (M6) and between the Dublin and Sligo road (N4).

The project, which was financed via a long-term loan by the European Investment Bank and commercial lenders, includes the maintenance of 30 bridges. It has a remaining concession life of about 18 years.

The second asset backed by DIF is the M3, which reached financial close in 2007 and has been operational since 2010. The fund manager acquired its 80 percent stake in the project from Cintra, a subsidiary of Spain’s Ferrovial (75 percent), and from local group SIAC Construction (5 percent).

The M3 begins outside Clonee and terminates south west of Kells, just before the N52. This latter project was not without controversy when first drafted in the mid-2000s, as its route passed near a couple of significant archaeological sites.

Both roads were tendered by the NRA, the Irish Road Authority. Operations and maintenance are assumed by the project companies. Cintra will continue to provide operational support services to both roads.

The acquisitions were funded via DIF III, the manager’s €800 million, three-year-old penultimate vehicle, which is now fully deployed. 

DIF last September closed DIF IV on €1.15 billion. The fund is now about 25 percent committed to deals, Allard Ruijs, a partner at DIF, told Infrastructure Investor.