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Infrastructure Investor Awards 2021: North America

Regional awards including fund manager of the year, deal of the year and deals in renewables, energy and transport.

Fund Manager of the Year

WINNER: Brookfield Asset Management

SECOND PLACE: EQT
THIRD PLACE: Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners

Brookfield closed its second infrastructure debt fund on $2.7 billion at the tail-end of 2020, while in 2021 it reached a $7 billion first close on its inaugural global transition vehicle. The fund will invest in renewable power and deep operating capabilities to scale clean energy, as well as catalyse the transformation of carbon-intensive businesses. Brookfield also emerged victorious in its battle to acquire Inter Pipeline, while it sold Enwave Energy, the largest district energy business in North America, for
$4.1 billion.


Let nothing go to waste: waste management is a focus of Macquarie’s newly closed fund

Equity Fundraising of the Year

WINNER: Macquarie Asset Management

SECOND PLACE: Vision Ridge Partners
THIRD PLACE:
Argo Infrastructure Partners

Macquarie closed Macquarie Infrastructure Partners V on $6.9 billion in 2021, exceeding its original $5 billion target. The Americas-focused fund attracted capital from around 100 LPs following its initial launch in mid-2020. It will invest across the waste management, utilities, energy, transportation and communications sectors, primarily focusing on the US. Macquarie has been investing in North American infrastructure since 2004. Recent deals include the $2.9 billion acquisition of telecoms firm Cincinnati Bell.


Deal of the Year

WINNER: Signature Aviation (Blackstone, Global Infrastructure Partners, Cascade Investments)

SECOND PLACE: First Student/First Transit (EQT)
THIRD PLACE: Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Area Flood Risk Management Project (Acciona/Shikun & Binui)

Blackstone, Global Infrastructure Partners and Bill Gates’s Cascade Investments were originally rival bidders, but eventually came together for the take-private acquisition of Signature Aviation in a deal worth $4.7 billion. The deal highlighted the growing appeal of the private aviation sector. Signature is the leading fixed-base operator globally, with the lion’s share of its operations in North America. Blackstone and GIP hold 35 percent each, while Cascade owns the remaining 30 percent.


Energy Deal of the Year

WINNER: Sempra Infrastructure Partners (KKR)

SECOND PLACE: Vineyard Wind 1 (Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, Avangrid Renewables)
THIRD PLACE: Enwave (IFM, OTPP, QIC, Ullico)

KKR invested a total of $3.37 billion in Sempra Infrastructure Partners towards the end of 2020. The transaction values the business at a total of $25.2 billion.

The newly created platform combines Sempra Energy’s LNG business and IEnova, a developer of clean energy in Mexico and North America. KKR will now look to drive growth in both the conventional and renewable energy markets in the region.


Renewables Deal of the Year

WINNER: Vineyard Wind 1 (Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners/Avangrid Renewables)

SECOND PLACE: Apex Clean Energy (Ares Management Corporation)
THIRD PLACE: Cypress Creek Renewables (EQT)

Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Avangrid raised $2.3 billion of senior debt from nine different banks to close financing on the 800MW Vineyard Wind 1 offshore wind farm in Massachusetts. The project is the first commercial-scale offshore wind farm in the US to reach this important milestone. Offshore work is due to start this year and Vineyard Wind 1 is set to begin delivering clean energy to households across Massachusetts in 2023.


Going the distance: iCON’s new asset manages 572 miles of freight railroad across Omaha, Nebraska and Chicago

Transport Deal of the Year

WINNER: Iowa Interstate Railroad (iCON Infrastructure)

SECOND PLACE: Signature Aviation (Blackstone, Global Instructure Partners, Cascade Investments)
THIRD PLACE: First Student and First Transit (EQT)

iCON took a 40 percent stake in Iowa Interstate Railroad from Railroad Development Corporation in a bilateral deal last year. The company manages a 572-mile freight railroad across Omaha, Nebraska and Chicago. It is also one of only six regional railroads in the US owned neither by large railroad holding companies or the government. The plan is now to serve as a platform for growth, including partnerships with other railroad companies and investment in intermodal facilities and river ports.


Digital Infrastructure Deal of the Year

WINNER: QTS Realty Trust (Blackstone)

SECOND PLACE: Astound Broadband (Stonepeak)
THIRD PLACE: Manitoba Fibre (DIF Capital Partners)

In one of the biggest deals of the year in any sector, Blackstone dipped into its open-ended infrastructure fund, as well as its unlisted perpetual life real estate investment trust, to acquire QTS Realty Trust, a Kansas-based data centre company, in a $10 billion take-private transaction. QTS operates more than seven million square feet of data centres in 20 markets across North America and Europe, including large campuses in Virginia, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta and Portland.


Energy Investor of the Year

WINNER: KKR

SECOND PLACE: I Squared Capital
THIRD PLACE: Brookfield Asset Management

KKR’s $3.37 billion investment in Sempra Infrastructure Partners emphatically earned it the titles of both Global Energy Investor and North American Energy Investor of the Year. The firm now owns a 20 percent stake in one of the largest energy networks in the region, with a major focus on the development and construction of LNG export infrastructure, natural gas infrastructure, as well as renewable energy generation. The new business was created in December 2020.


Renewables Investor of the Year

WINNER: Ares Management Corporation

SECOND PLACE: Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners
THIRD PLACE: OMERS

Ares committed more than $2 billion across 10 transactions in wind, solar, storage and energy efficiency last year. A major highlight was the acquisition of a controlling stake in Apex Clean Energy, billed as one of the largest privately owned clean energy companies in the US. Apex has more than 30GW of wind, solar, storage and distributed energy resources in development. Ares also acquired Lincoln Land Wind, a 300MW wind project in Illinois.


Transport Investor of the Year

WINNER: iCON Infrastructure

SECOND PLACE: Blackstone
THIRD PLACE: EQT

iCON’s standout transport transaction was undoubtedly its acquisition of a 40 percent stake in Iowa Interstate Railroad, which it secured in a bilateral deal. The Railroad Development Corporation retains a majority interest, but this still represents one of just six regional railroads in the US not owned by large railroad holding companies or the government.


Homeward bound: Blackstone added fibre-to-the-home provider Hotwire Communications to its portfolio last year

Digital Infrastructure Investor of the Year

WINNER: Blackstone

SECOND PLACE: Stonepeak
THIRD PLACE: I Squared Capital

Blackstone’s $10 billion take-private of data centre giant QTS Realty Trust was its flagship digital investment in 2021. But the firm also drew capital from both its infrastructure fund and the Blackstone Tactical Opportunities fund to acquire Hotwire Communications, a fibre-to-the-home provider in the US. Founded in 2000, Hotwire has previously been named by Netflix as the fastest consumer internet provider in the country and has industry-leading consumer satisfaction scores.