Dutch, Australian pensions wrap up storage deal

A consortium of investors advised by Access Capital Partners, including the Netherlands’ APG and PGGM, has completed the purchase of a 70% stake in tank storage firm LBC Terminals from Australian financial group Challenger for $297.5m.

Dutch pension funds APG and PGGM – through its PGGM Infrastructure Fund 2012 – have teamed with unnamed Australian superannuation investors to acquire the remaining 70 percent stake in LBC Terminals, an international operator of tank storage facilities for liquid bulk chemical products.

The deal, which was advised by Australia-based infrastructure investment manager Access Capital Advisers, involved a purchase price of $297.5 million. At the time of the parties signing a sale and purchase agreement in June, it was reported that the investors would be parting with $277.8 million for a 66 percent stake.

LBC manages a large network of port terminals with a combined storage capacity of almost 2.7 million cubic meters at locations in the US and China and along the European coastline in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain and Portugal.

“LBC is a core, stable infrastructure asset that we expect will provide strong and reliable returns for our investors for years to come,” said Graham Matthews, Access’ chief investment officer in a statement. “At a time when there are significant risks on the global economic horizon, assets such as LBC that provide good returns through the economic cycle are a good fit for pension fund investors.”

Access has been managing interests in LBC for Australian superannuation investors since 2007 and will now manage the investment on behalf of all investors under an agreement with LBC. Advice on the latest deal was led by Stephen Burns, Access’ head of Europe. He said that the acquisition valuation was at a multiple of 9.3 times expected earnings for LBC in full-year 2013, which he described as “excellent…for such a safe and reliable investment”.

The stake was sold by Australia’s Challenger Infrastructure Fund and Challenger Life. For the former – a publicly listed infrastructure vehicle – the deal represents one of its final sales prior to being wound up. Shortly after the LBC deal was agreed, it green-lighted the sale of its last remaining asset – a stake in UK utility network and infrastructure firm Inexus to Brookfield Infrastructure Partners.