Some years are evenly distributed and some years you have one outfit clearly dominating most of our top categories.
This year clearly falls into the latter, with I Squared Capital taking home all of our global and North American fund manager and fundraising of the year awards. Add to that founder and managing partner Sadek Wahba’s global personality of the year trophy and the fund manager’s Asia Pacific transport investor of the year gong and you have got pretty much a clean sweep.
Not bad for a ‘new’ outfit, whose $3 billion global infrastructure fund managed to become the largest first-time infrastructure vehicle raised since 2009, according to Infrastructure Investor Research & Analytics. Of course, while I Squared is nominally new, it is stocked with some very experienced old hands. After all, Wahba and most of his senior team are alumni of Morgan Stanley Infrastructure and well known in the market.
I Squared was not the only fund manager putting in a strong performance. Hot on its heels was Meridiam Infrastructure, which took home almost all of our transport investor of the year trophies, as well as earning our Europe PPP deal of the year award for Calais Port which it shares with CDC Infrastructure. The only thing stopping Meridiam from having what is known in poker as a ‘four of a kind’ hand was winning our Asia Pacific transport investor of the year category (hint: time to go to Asia guys).
Elsewhere, there were some interesting developments, which hint at the growing maturity of some markets. Take our Africa deal of the year trophy, which was awarded to South African insurer Old Mutual for its acquisition of fund manager AIIM from partner Macquarie Infrastructure & Real Assets. It is unusual, if not an outright first, to have a fund manager buyout in this category. But as more and more fund managers target Africa that will surely change.
Our global and European deals of the year awards have a special significance this year. On the global front, Tank und Rast’s sale by Terra Firma and Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management may have raised eyebrows for its exit multiple. However, what is really eye-catching about the deal is how the managers essentially transformed a fairly risky private equity asset into a long-term, de-risked infrastructure investment, eagerly swooped by a consortium of direct investors.
On the European deal of the year front, the Thames Tideway Tunnel, London’s “super sewer”, is widely seen as offering a template for the participation of long-term institutional capital in a greenfield project. How replicable it will be, considering the significant amount of effort put in by the private partners and the UK government, remains to be seen. But for those who thought it could not be done, well, here is proof to the contrary.
Before we get on with the celebrating, though, let me first thank everyone who voted in this year’s awards. As has been the case in previous years, we recorded our biggest voting tally this year and that simply would not have been possible without you.
And now, without further ado, please click here to read all about the winners for all the 55 categories we have awarded this year.