Equitix makes sixth Italian investment with hospital buy

The move comes amid changes to Italy’s PPP laws aimed at improving investment conditions in infrastructure projects.

UK-based investor Equitix has bought 85 percent of a hospital PPP in Italy, marking its fifth investment in Italy’s healthcare sector and its sixth in the country overall.

The fund acquired the interest in Novara Salute e Servizi, the concessionaire of the design, construction, finance and operations of the new Hospital of Novara, from Pessina Costruzioni. The size of the transaction was undisclosed.

The 27-year concession deal includes the revamping of the former psychiatric hospital in the north of the country. The 147-year-old building used to house up to 2,000 patients and now acts as an integrated healthcare centre.

Equitix’s new investment follows recent changes to the PPP market in Italy, including the statutory limit on public sector financial support being raised from 30 percent to 49 percent of the investment value. Unsolicited proposals can also now be submitted for any kind of PPP – they were previously limited to concessions or leases.

“This deal confirms the growing interest of institutional investors towards opportunities offered by the PPP investment market,” said Marco Cerritelli, partner at law firm McDermott Will & Emery, which represented the seller. “We are looking forward to replicating this success with similar infrastructure PPP opportunities.”

The acquisition is Equitix’s fifth investment in a hospital in Italy following its first foray into the sector in June 2015, when it spent €158 million on the Sant’Anna site in Turin. It also owns a stake in a 16.3MW solar portfolio across Italy.

The firm last month held a £750 million ($979 million; €846 million) close on its fourth fund. The vehicle, targeting a net return of 9 percent, is around 75 percent committed and Equitix is eyeing the launch of a fifth fund later this year.