MIRA-led group to acquire Louisiana utility

An investor group led by Macquarie and bcIMC will acquire Cleco Corporation, a public utility holding company, for $55.37 per share in cash.

A group of long-term infrastructure investors led by Australian fund manager Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA) and British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (bcIMC), have agreed to acquire public utility holding company Cleco Corporation and its subsidiary Cleco Power, a Louisiana-based regulated electric utility.

Under the agreement, MIRA, bcIMC and the other investors in the group, which include John Hancock Financial, will acquire all of Cleco’s outstanding shares at $55.37 each and will assume $1.3 billion of debt, valuing the company at approximately $4.7 billion, Cleco said in a statement.

Once the transaction is complete, Cleco Power will continue to operate as an independent company in Pineville, Louisiana. In addition to maintaining the company’s local presence and headquarters, the investor group has committed to maintaining employment levels, compensation and benefits; and to appoint Louisiana residents to senior-level management positions as well as to the board of directors.

Cleco Power president Darren Olagues is expected to become president and chief executive of Cleco upon closing, which is expected in the second half of 2015 and is subject to customary conditions and approvals including that of Cleco shareholders, the Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Macquarie’s share of the investment comes from Macquarie Infrastructure Partners III (MIP III), its fourth unlisted North America-focused fund which invests in transportation, communications, utilities, power, energy and waste management assets. MIP III exceeded its $2 billion target to close on $3 billion at the end of September.

MIRA, a division of Sydney-based Macquarie Group, is an alternative asset manager specialising in infrastructure, real estate, agriculture and other real asset classes via public and private funds, co-investments, partnerships and separately managed accounts.

Its client base is primarily institutional investors, including global pension and superannuation funds, other institutions and governments. As of March 31, MIRA managed 29 infrastructure investment vehicles and $105 billion of infrastructure assets across 27 countries.

Canada's bcIMC is an independent investment management corporation, which as of March 31, 2014, had an investment portfolio of C$114 billion (€79 billion; $101 billion). The firm invests in all major asset classes including infrastructure and its clients include public pension funds, public trusts and insurance funds. bcIMC’s infrastructure portfolio was valued at C$5.2 billion as of December 31, 2013.