Palisade to take full ownership of Port of Portland

The Australian fund manager is buying the 50% it does not already own of the Port of Portland, days after taking sole ownership of Ross River Solar Farm.

Palisade Investment Partners  has agreed to acquire the remaining 50 percent it does not already own of Australia’s Port of Portland from Utilities Trust of Australia, a A$6 billion ($4.7 billion; €3.82 billion) open-ended infrastructure fund managed by Hastings.

The firm did not disclose financial details, but said the stake would be acquired at an EV/EBITDA multiple of 11 times. The deal is expected to reach financial close in mid-2018.

Palisade first invested in the port in 2012, when it bought a 50 percent share through its Diversified Infrastructure Fund and separate accounts. Since then, total trade volume at the deep-water bulk port in the state of Victoria has increased from 5.4 million tonnes to 7.6 million tonnes per year.

Its annual export trade is currently valued at around A$2 billion and includes forestry products, grain, livestock, mineral sands, aluminium and fertiliser, according to Palisade.

“We are currently seeing continued investment activity in the mid-market,” said Daniel Roberts, Palisade’s executive director. “Moving to 100 percent ownership is consistent with our approach of maximising value through active management.”

The announcement follows the takeover of Ross River Solar Farm in Queensland last week.

Palisade acquired the 50 percent stake in Ross River Solar Farm it did not already own from Australian solar farm developer ESCO Pacific. The fund manager is now sole owner of the 148MW facility, which will be the largest operating single-stage solar farm in the country when it’s commissioned in the third quarter of 2018.

The A$225 million project, in which Palisade first invested in December 2016, is being funded by Palisade’s Renewable Energy Fund and three of the firm’s institutional clients including the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, Australia’s state-run green financier; and superannuation funds VicSuper and HESTA.

Palisade launched the renewable energy fund in October 2016, with a target to raise A$500 million for a renewables portfolio totalling more than 500MW. It has raised approximately A$210 million from institutional investors, including an A$75 million cornerstone commitment from the CEFC, the country’s state-run green financier, Karen Gould, an investment director at Palisade, told Infrastructure Investor.

The vehicle targets opportunities with a return range of 10 percent to 12 percent gross of fees, Gould said. In addition to Ross River Solar Farm, the fund’s portfolio includes two operational wind farms, bringing its total generating capacity in excess of 375MW.