Four investors pick up Welcome Break minority stake

The deal is part of Denmark’s Industriens Pension’s €150m outlay across four infrastructure assets, including a holding in the US’s Northwest Parkway.

One of Denmark’s largest pension funds has agreed a minority investment into UK motorway services operator Welcome Break alongside three other unnamed institutions.

Industriens Pension and its co-investors have acquired a 45 percent stake in the second-largest owner and operator of service stations on British motorways, in a deal arranged by UK-based advisers Arjun Infrastructure Partners.

The stake was bought from Australian investment firm Challenger Life and the ING European Infrastructure Fund, a vehicle launched in 2008 with the seeding of Welcome Break. The latter fund, which had a €1 billion target, was pulled in 2009 amid a lack of demand. The €350 million NIBC European Infrastructure Fund retains a 55 percent stake in Welcome Break.

The trio bought the asset in 2008 for £500 million ($635 million; €569.5 million). Terms of the latest deal were undisclosed.

A spokesman for Industriens Pension told Infrastructure Investor the Welcome Break deal is the largest of a Dkk1.1 billion ($164.8 million; €147.8 million) spend. The Danish pension fund said it has also agreed investments in two toll roads in Portugal alongside DIF Infrastructure IV, in addition to another capital injection into Northwest Parkway, a toll road in Denver recently bought by DIF, HICL and Northleaf Capital Partners for about $500 million.

“[Industriens Pension] were co-investing at the same time we did our investment [in Portugal],” Allard Ruijs, partner and head of investor relations at DIF, clarified. “This was for transactions that we reduced in size for portfolio construction reasons. In fact, other co-investors were also involved in these transactions, which are all DIF IV LPs. We did circa €200 million of co-investments alongside DIF IV in the last 1-2 years, when DIF IV was being invested.”

The investments by Industriens Pension means infrastructure now forms 11 percent of its Dkk155 billion portfolio. As well as commitments to funds managed by DIF and Actis, the pension scheme has made direct investments in Germany’s 288MW Butendiek offshore wind farm and a 323km Scottish gas pipeline.