II Awards 2018: Europe, Middle East and Africa winners

Antin Infrastructure Partners, Meridian and InfraVia were among those picking up the prizes in EMEA.

1. Antin Infrastructure Partners
2. InfraVia Capital Partners
3. Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets

If, as many claim, fibre broadband is the most up-and-coming sector in the infrastructure market, then Antin has it covered. While its first deal in the sector saw it make its debut investment in the US, it also completed deals in the UK and Spain for CityFibre and Ufinet respectively.

The French manager, though, was far from done. It swooped in on the domestic district heating market to buy Idex from Cube Infrastructure, fending off competition from a host of rival managers. Salmon transportation was the next on its list in September, when the manager bought Norway’s Solvtrans from Oaktree.

It also finally won its battle against the Spanish government against the cuts made to its solar investments from its first fund, which in the words of one limited partner, “shows the benefits of having a capable GP with enough resources to fight back”.

1. Meridiam
2. Investec
3. African Infrastructure Investment Managers

Meridiam retains its crown as the Fund Manager of the Year, Middle East and Africa, after dethroning Actis in 2017 following the latter’s five straight victories.

The biggest deal it closed last year was its acquisition of a majority stake in Airport International Group, the holding company behind Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan – Meridiam’s first investment in that country. It acquired the stake alongside partners Groupe ADP and ASMA Capital Partners, the latter acting on behalf of IDB Infrastructure Fund II, which it manages.

As well as this big move in the Middle East, Meridiam continued to deploy its Africa fund throughout the year with investments in Gabon and Nigeria, among others, in the energy and ports sectors.

It also re-opened that vehicle late in 2018 with a €300 million target to fund further investments, cementing its commitment to the continent.

1. InfraVia Capital Partners
2. Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets
3. Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners

Coinciding with its 10th anniversary, InfraVia closed its fourth fund on €2 billion, exactly double the size of its previous attempt. Not only did the fund achieve a 100 percent re-up rate, it also boosted the share of its non-European investors to just over a quarter of the fund.

While non-European institutions made up 16 percent of InfraVia’s third fund two years before, this time Asian investors alone comprised 14 percent. The Paris-based manager retains the European focus of its fund but has substantially expanded its global client base.

The demand is what sets InfraVia ahead of the pack. While some exalt the merits of a global core-plus programme, the firm’s focus on core European infrastructure is still desired by many investors.

1. Idex (Antin Infrastructure Partners)
2. Abertis (ACS, Hochtief, Atlantia)
3. John Laing Infrastructure Fund (Dalmore Capital, Equitix)

Idex’s chief executive Thierry Franck de Préaumont hailed Antin as “the right partner for the next stage of growth” after a deal thought to be worth about €1.2 billion was agreed for the French district heating company. Antin had a right to feel rather pleased with itself.

True to form, there was heated competition to buy the company from Cube Infrastructure, with Antin beating some of the largest investors in the infrastructure fund market and the French energy industry to agree the deal valued at about 15 times EBITDA.

Antin’s acquisition saw it gain control of the company with the third largest market share of the French district heating network, although it also sees significant expansion for the company in other markets such as the UK and Germany. There’s certainly more heat left in the pipeline for this one.

1. Taiba N’Diaye wind farm (Lekela Power)
2. Route 2020 Dubai metro extension (Alstom, Acciona, Gulermak)
3. Sakaka solar project (ACWA Power, AlGihaz)

Actis-backed renewable power developer Lekela received more than $250 million from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the US government’s development finance institution, to finance Senegal’s first 159MW wind farm, backed by a Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency political risk insurance guarantee.

The scheme reached financial close in August 2018 and construction is underway, with a targeted opening date of November 2019.

The farm, located 70 kilometres north of Dakar, will boost Senegal’s grid-connected capacity by 15 percent and has a 20-year power-purchase agreement in place with state utility Senelec.

United States Agency for International Development’s Power Africa initiative also provided support for the scheme, with Danish export credit agency EKF committing to a €140 million export loan with a tenor of 17 years as well.

Taiba N’Diaye is Senegal’s first utility-scale wind generation project and is a landmark project for the West African nation. It adds to Lekela’s portfolio on the continent, as the company also has projects in Egypt, Ghana and South Africa.

1. Landmark Blankenburg Connection (Macquarie Capital, Ballast Nedam, DEME)
2. Rv 3/Rv 25 road (Skanska)
3. A10/A24 Neuruppin to Pankow road (BAM-PGGM, HABAU)

In October 2018, a consortium of Macquarie Capital (70 percent), Ballast Nedam (15 percent) and DEME (15 percent) reached financial close on the €1 billion Landmark Blankenburg Connection, a major road scheme in Rotterdam.

The PPP is for the design, build, finance and maintenance of a new highway connection of approximately 4km linking two roads to the west of Rotterdam, including two tunnels, two new flyovers and the widening of the existing A20 road.

The deal is one of the largest PPP contracts awarded in the Netherlands and included €900 million of debt financing arranged by Macquarie Capital.

Construction began right after financial close was achieved, with the sheer size and complexity of the scheme making it stand out as our PPP Deal of the Year, Europe

1. Antin Infrastructure Partners
2. iCON Infrastructure
3. Partners Group

Antin emerged victorious in one of the biggest and most high-profile auctions for a European energy asset in the last few years, fighting off some of the sector’s biggest players to acquire French district heating group Idex.

The transaction saw Antin pay around €1.2 billion to Cube Infrastructure Managers for the company, which operates 41 district heating and cooling networks in Paris, 13 energy-from-waste facilities and a portfolio of energy services contracts.

The acquisition, including debt, represented around a 15 times EBITDA multiple – enough to beat interest from players thought to include Ardian, Partners Group, JPMorgan and IFM Investors, among others.

With such illustrious competition, the move cements Antin’s position as one of Europe’s leading energy investors and is enough for it to take home the crown in 2018.

1. AMP Capital
2. Global Infrastructure Partners
3. Mirova

Brexit, of course, is casting something of a cloud over potential investment in UK infrastructure at the moment. So, bravo to Australian fund manager AMP Capital, which shrugged off the uncertainty to acquire a 49 percent stake in London’s Luton Airport in 2018.

Luton is the UK’s fifth-largest airport and the fastest-growing in the lucrative London market, with AMP Capital jumping at the rare opportunity to gain exposure to it. The price tag was $500 million, purchased from French fund manager Ardian, and sees Luton become the sixth airport in AMP Capital’s portfolio, alongside two others in the UK and three in its native country.

The firm has a strong track record of successfully managing airport assets in its various funds and the move for Luton gives it the foothold in London that it would have craved, despite all the potential headwinds that Brexit may bring.

1. Antin Infrastructure Partners
2. Arcus Infrastructure Partners
3. Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets

Antin Infrastructure Partners had a busy year on the telecoms front, securing two significant deals that highlight its strength in this sector in Europe.

First, in April, it partnered with Goldman Sachs to lead a consortium in a successful £538 million ($702 million; €618 million) take-private bid for the UK-based fibre broadband group CityFibre.

Then in July, it followed that by acquiring the Spanish operations of Ufinet from private equity group Cinven for an undisclosed sum through its €3.6 billion Antin Infrastructure Partners III.

There’s obvious synergy between the deals: Spain’s fibre-to-home ratio stands at around 34 percent, while the UK’s was 1 percent at the time of the Ufinet deal. Antin clearly sees a chance to leverage Ufinet’s experience as CityFibre positions itself for the rollout of fibre-to-home in the UK.

The acquisitions position Antin as a major player in the European broadband space, particularly in the UK and Spain, for the near future.