First State buys Scandinavian ferry route

The fund manager will deploy the latest series of its European Direct Investment Fund to acquire the Sweden-Denmark commuter line.

First State Investments, the European investment arm of Australia's Colonial First State Global Asset Management, has bought 100 percent of the Helsingør-Helsingborg ferry line from industry players Scandlines and Stena.

The fund manager will start operating the service from the end of this month. The route is today run by a joint venture between Scandlines and Stena, which each own 50 percent.

“We are convinced that the fact that in the future having only one proprietor of the route will benefit both employees and customers,” said Søren Poulsgaard Jensen, Scandlines chief executive, in a statement.

The five ships currently sailing on the four-kilometre line will be acquired as part of the agreement, and the route will continue to be marketed under the name Scandlines Elsinore-Helsingborg. Both companies will initially support First State in operating the route.

“First State represents mainly European pension funds with long-term investment, and we look forward to working with employees, management and the local community to ensure the service's continued success and stability,” said Marcus Ayre, a partner at First State.

The investment was made by First State’s European Diversified Infrastructure Fund (EDIF), a 15-year vehicle the fund manager has raised in successive series since turning from an open-ended to a hybrid structure in 2009.

EDIF’s portfolio also include Anglian Water Group and Electricity North West in the UK, digita Caruna in Finland, Ferngas and EVG in Germany and Reganosa in Spain.

Last October, Infrastructure Investor reported that the firm was looking to close EDIF’s series five on or above its €500 million target by the end of this month, which would bring the fund’s overall size above its target of €1.5 billion. First State is planning to launch vehicle’s successor within the next couple of years.