New office in Santiago gives DIF a LatAm ‘landing place’

The Dutch firm has deployed 65% of its fifth flagship fund and hopes to make its first investment in the region this year.

DIF has established a foothold in the Latin American market with the opening of an office in Santiago, Chile, according to Allard Ruijs, a partner at the infrastructure fund manager.

The Netherlands-based firm will begin investing in projects in the region, starting with Chile and Uruguay, Ruijs told Infrastructure Investor. He added that DIF, which was launched in 2005 and manages €5.6 billion in assets, will mainly target what he described as the “backbone” of the firm’s strategy which includes public-private partnerships, concessions and renewable energy projects.

“There will be more projects procured in the coming years, so we will see good growth potential in the region,” Ruijs said. He added that DIF was starting off in Chile and Uruguay because the countries have the most stable and mature infrastructure markets in Latin America.

He said the firm aimed to make at least one investment in a Latin American asset this year, but that the region would receive only a “minority” share of the capital DIF deployed in the near future. He added that Europe would remain DIF’s primary focus, while North America and Australia, where the firm has also set up offices, would also be important parts of its strategy.

The fund manager has hired Daniel Aninat to head the Santiago office as a managing director. He previously headed the Chilean corporate banking division of Scotiabank, and before that led project and acquisition finance for Santander in Chile. He will be joined by Luis Hinojosa, a senior director at DIF who is relocating from Madrid.

DIF is currently deploying capital from its fifth flagship infrastructure fund, which closed in May 2018 on €1.9 billion. DIF V has deployed around 65 percent of its capital across 18 transactions. The most recent transaction was last month when the firm purchased Canadian company BlueEarth Renewables from the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan for an undisclosed sum.

The firm also manages the €450 million DIF Core Infrastructure Fund I, which invests in mid-sized energy, transport and telecommunications assets.