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Partners Group raises fresh equity for Fermaca

The Swiss firm has raised more than $500m to finance the Mexico gas pipeline operator's continued expansion.

Private markets investment management firm Partners Group has successfully raised over $500 million in equity – mostly from new investors – through a one-time closed-end fund dedicated to Mexico’s energy infrastructure sector, the Switzerland-based firm said in a statement on Thursday.

The firm’s latest infrastructure fund, which closed in January 2014 on €1 billion, as well as other Partners funds contributed substantially to the capital raising, a firm spokesperson told Infrastructure Investor. The $500 million of fresh equity could turn into $2.5 billion to $3 billion of potential investment capital once debt is added to it, the same person noted.

The additional equity will go towards the expansion of Fermaca, a natural gas pipeline owner and operator, in which Partners acquired a majority stake in February 2014.

It will also “enable Fermaca to build its business in the coming months and reach a level of maturity and size that will enable [it] to compete in Mexico against the more established incumbents Sempra and Transcanada,” Jean Perarnaud, Partners Group’s managing director for private infrastructure, said in an e-mailed response.

Fermaca’s expansion involves building out the existing gas pipeline network into Texas in order to source cheap US shale gas.

“What Fermaca is doing is putting together a fully-integrated US to central Mexico gas pipeline network that will be – once it’s built – a very unique asset and really levers or plays off of the opportunity set that was already there and that’s being accelerated by the energy reforms,” managing director and head of infrastructure Americas Todd Bright said.

A month after acquiring a majority stake in the gas pipeline operator, Partners also realised a successful bond offering totalling $550 million to refinance Fermaca's existing debt. 

Since then, Fermaca has been awarded a contract by the state-owned power utility CFE to build a 423-kilometre gas pipeline. El Encino-La Laguna, as the pipeline is called, will connect with Fermaca’s existing Tarahumara pipeline and transport 1,500 million cubic feet per day.

Awarded in December 2014, the pipeline is expected to become operational in the first half of 2017, according to the statement.

In March 2015, Fermaca also announced it was teaming up with US master limited partnership ONEOK Partners to jointly build the Roadrunner, a 200-mile pipeline that will run from the Permian Basin in Texas to the US-Mexico border and will also connect to the existing Tarahumara pipeline.

Founded in 1996, Partners Group has more than €37 billion in assets under management, of which approximately €5 billion represents infrastructure. The firm also invests in private equity, real estate and debt.

In addition to its Swiss headquarters, Partners has another 17 offices worldwide. It opened its newest one in Houston last August in a bid to build out its private markets coverage in the US and Latin America.