Mitsui to acquire 20% of Westbourne

The Japanese financial giant may increase its interest in the Australian debt fund manager by a further 10% in the next few years.

Tokyo-headquartered Mitsui & Co has agreed to buy a 20 percent equity interest for an undisclosed amount in Westbourne Capital, the Melbourne-based infrastructure debt fund manager.

An announcement from Westbourne added that Mitsui may choose to increase its stake by a further 10 percent over the next three to five years. Net proceeds from the sale “will be retained in the business to support Westbourne’s continued growth”.

The announcement stressed that the balance of equity interests would continue to be held by Westbourne’s employees and directors and that this “substantial majority ownership” would “preserve Westbourne’s independence and strong alignment with clients”. It said there would be no changes to business strategy or investment process.

The latest agreement builds on an existing relationship between the two firms. In May last year, Westbourne launched a $300 million infrastructure debt fund exclusively for Japanese institutional investors through an alliance with a Mitsui subsidiary. While Westbourne was the investment manager and adviser, Mitsui’s role was to introduce and manage relationships with Japanese institutions.

In March this year, Westbourne revealed exclusively to Infrastructure Investor that it had raised A$2 billion (€1.4 billion; $1.8 billion) in fresh capital over the prior six months. New investors included two sovereign wealth funds (one from Asia and one from the Middle East) and a UK insurer.

Westbourne has attracted commitments of $4 billion from 24 clients in total and, since launching its investment programme in 2010, has committed more than $3 billion to 34 infrastructure debt investments.

Tokyo Stock Exchange-listed Mitsui is a diversified trading, investment and services company with 140 offices in 65 countries and a market capitalisation of around $25 billion.