The European Commission has given the go-ahead for 3i Group to acquire Barclays Infrastructure Funds Management (BIFM) from UK bank Barclays.
“The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns given the companies' limited market shares on the markets concerned,” the European body said in a brief statement.
A spokeswoman for 3i, however, said the Commission’s approval is not yet the final step, as “other conditions need to be met before the deal is closed”. She did not specify what those other conditions are.
In late May, 3i made an irrevocable offer for BIFM, which has approximately £780 million (€909 million; $1.2 billion) in infrastructure assets under management and investment teams in London and Paris.
Barclays’ European infrastructure fund management arm is headed by Christopher Elliott – managing director and head of infrastructure investing – together with managing directors Nigel Middleton and Andy Matthews.
The Barclays unit was one of the first fund managers to target public-private partnership (PPP) deals and raised its first fund in 1996. Since then, it has invested £1.7 billion through six funds in the UK and across Europe in a wide range of sectors including health, education and transport.
BIFM currently has two active unlisted funds investing in UK and European PPP and energy projects. 3i sees these as a complement to 3i Infrastructure’s European offering, which is focused on core infrastructure. 3i Infrastructure listed on the London Stock Exchange in March 2007, raising £703 million in an initial public offering and then a further £115 million in a placing and open offer in July 2008.
In a previous statement, 3i said the acquisition of BIFM would demonstrate its commitment to growing its infrastructure business, as well as increasing third-party income by increasing assets under management.
Cressida Hogg, 3i managing partner of infrastructure, described the potential acquisition as “a unique opportunity to broaden the expertise in our infrastructure business and acquire a platform for growing our assets under management”.