SL Capital, pension funds pen £600m UK rail deal

SL Capital and its joint venture partner Rock Rail secured debt contributions from six partners to purchase new trains for the East Anglia network.

A joint venture between subsidiaries of Standard Life Investments and Rock Infrastructure has reached a £600 million ($763 million; €679.7 million) financial close for 378 new trains for the Abellio East Anglia franchise.

SL Capital and Rock Rail were joined by GLIL – the Greater Manchester Pension Fund and London Pensions Fund Authority joint venture – in providing the equity for the acquisition. GLIL said it contributed £40 million in equity.

The deal marks SL Capital and Rock Rail’s second together after they agreed earlier this year to fund over £200 million of rolling stock for Govia Thameslink Railway. Dominic Helmsley, head of SL Capital Infrastructure said after the East Anglia deal that SL Capital and Rock Rail “see further potential to provide competitive funding for new rolling stock across the UK rail network”.

The debt for the deal was provided by Aviva Annuity, Legal & General Investment Management, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada and Standard Life Investments.

The European Investment Bank also provided £60 million in debt financing, the first loan in the UK guaranteed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments.

Rock Rail said it is bidding to fund other new rolling stock for operators, including stock on the South West and East Midlands networks, as well as funding stations, depots and other Network Rail assets.