HICL eyes first Australian asset

But the deal – which involves buying from HICL’s investment adviser, InfraRed – is dependent upon shareholder approval.

HICL Infrastructure Company (HICL), the UK-listed infrastructure fund manager, is proposing the acquisition of a stake in what would be its first asset in Australia.

However, the 5.85 percent interest in the AquaSure Victorian Desalination public-private partnership (PPP) – an asset located near Melbourne – would be acquired from HICL’s investment adviser, InfraRed Capital Partners.

Because of this, HICL is enacting what it describes as “good corporate governance” by seeking the approval of shareholders for the deal. The green-light will be sought at an extraordinary general meeting on 15 April.

“The acquisition fits within the company’s investment strategy and helps diversify the current portfolio further by geography and project type,” said HICL chairman Graham Picken in a statement. “The board unanimously recommends that shareholders vote in favour…”

HICL currently has a portfolio of 93 social and transportation infrastructure investments. The firm has traditionally had a strong bias to UK PPP transactions but, in an interim statement in February, it cautioned on the “intense competition” for larger UK deals which may make acquisition prices “unattractive”.

Hence, the firm is now looking with interest at other markets such as Australia, France (where it completed its first two investments recently) and Ireland.

Earlier this week, HICL announced that it would be abolishing a higher 1.5 percent management fee for assets in the construction phase, applying instead a sliding scale with a maximum charge of 1.1 percent.