II Awards: Triumph of the titans

The eighth iteration of our annual awards are an homage to size and disruption after a year that saw no let-up in demand for the asset class, despite a fair amount of political surprises.

The history of sport is underpinned by dramatic, colourful rivalries. Clashes between Liverpool and Man United; Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal; or the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers – all have contributed major twists to the overall narrative while shaping era-defining trends in multiple disciplines. And so it’s been for several years in the realm of infrastructure, where Brookfield Asset Management and Global Infrastructure Partners have faced each other head-on since closing the asset class’s first mega-funds earlier this decade.

In 2016, the edge went to Brookfield, thanks to a super-fast fundraise that saw it close what was then the world’s largest unlisted infrastructure vehicle on $14 billion in less than a year. Unsurprisingly, that was enough to land the Canadian firm the global equity fundraising award – but Sam Pollock’s team also triumphed in Asia, from where it sourced a remarkable chunk of the money it raised. Add in a couple of mammoth deals in Latin America and a landmark one in Australia and you’ve got your global fund manager award going to a hyperactive, deserving winner.

GIP closed its $15.8 billion fund in January, too late for the achievement to be cited in our 2016 tally. But the efforts leading up to it where certainly captured by the cheques the firm received last year from US pensions, some of which were bigger than the total garnered by mid-market funds. What’s more, GIP diversified by closing two other vehicles – its debut Australian and debt funds – while sealing its share of mega-deals, including Australia’s Asciano. That is why you recognised Adebayo Ogunlesi as the 2016 personality of the year and gave two debt-related gold medals to the firm he helms.

Usual suspects are present elsewhere in our roll of honour. Meridiam got three accolades, partly thanks to its speedy €1.3 billion European fundraise, but also for its participation in the team that led the $4 billion LaGuardia Airport modernisation project, the US’s largest PPP, to a successful close (the deal itself won three awards too). Allianz Global Investors made a clean sweep in the debt provider category, in a year that saw its head of infrastructure debt become chief of the whole alternatives business. London City Airport, which clinched our deal of the year trophy both in Europe and globally, showed that Canadian direct investors remain very much in the game.

Yet disruptors also found their place in 2016. Think of this year’s European champion, Antin Infrastructure Partners, which managed to surprise the market by finding infrastructure-like characteristics in unexpected corners of the market; or Mirova, which took an innovative approach to the renewables sector by raising its third dedicated fund and investing across the capital stack. 3i Infrastructure got its hands on a wealth of transport assets by setting up a new fund backed by ATP and APG. And of course innovation was at the heart of the work top law firms and banks did to land them awards in their respective categories.

Just as our champions passed major milestones for the asset class, Infrastructure Investor this year also set a new record, by awarding trophies in no fewer than 58 categories. Discover the full roll of honour, and read more about the stories that underpinned the wins of today’s industry giants, by clicking on this link. Let the saga continue.