Exclusive: GIP partners set to back listed infra manager

ATLAS Infrastructure, a new firm registered in both Australia and the UK, is seeking third-party capital for its UCITS fund, which the GIP partners have also seeded.

The partners of US-based fund manager Global Infrastructure Partners are backing a new listed infrastructure outfit staffed with RARE and Credit Suisse alumni.

David Bentley, a partner with ATLAS Infrastructure, declined to disclose the size of the investment, but said the GIP partners will be seeding its UCITS fund with a “relatively modest level of capital” and will be a two-thirds equity holder in the business.

ATLAS has also been in discussions with a number of pension funds as part of a push in Australia. The company is registered and has offices in both London and Sydney with a team of 17 following its launch last year, a group Bentley described as “one of the biggest investment teams in the listed infrastructure space”.

Bentley was previously a manager at Australia’s Future Fund and RARE Infrastructure and is joined by Rod Chisholm as co-partner and former RARE research head. Atlas also lists Peter Hyde and John Edwards as partners, the former being a previous managing director at Credit Suisse while the latter a former director in equities research at the firm. ATLAS’s executive chairman is Charles Kirwan-Taylor, previously head of corporate affairs at the GIP-owned Gatwick Airport.

“We are for [the GIP partners] an interesting extension of their scope of activity but implemented through an entirely arms-length operation,” Kirwan-Taylor said.

“The entities operate independently,” Bentley added. “GIP is represented in the governance of the company, but not in the investment process, which is completely separate. ATLAS and GIP have separate offices.”

GIP could not be reached for comment in time for publication.

ATLAS’s venture has a dual strategy, the first of which will be a diverse 30-stock portfolio run through the UCITS structure with a CPI plus 5 percent benchmark. A separate strategy will also provide smaller and more bespoke portfolios for larger clients, depending on their requirements.

“Investors are increasingly looking across to the listed market and seeing there are some quite good value listed infrastructure investments,” Bentley said.

ATLAS is targeting a 150-stock investment universe across the infrastructure space with a combined market capitalisation of about $2 trillion.

The investment by the GIP partners comes amid a move by the Singapore-based EDHEC Infrastructure Institute urging the SEC and the European Securities and Markets Authority to strengthen regulation on listed infrastructure, a market it describes as “fake infra”. Others, such as Cohen & Steers’s portfolio manager Benjamin Morton, believe there are opportunities for attractive returns in both markets.