The Pipeline: Blackstone & Macquarie join forces, GIP hires old friend, CDPQ heads to Spain

Heed the covid wake-up call, Blackstone and Macquarie to team up on roads and there’s a new but familiar face at GIP. Welcome to The Pipeline, the start-the-week briefing for our valued subscribers only.

First look

Ben Hammersley
Move on: Futurist Ben Hammersley argues covid has irrevocably changed the world

No going back
We’re not quite ready to let go of last week’s Global Summit Online just yet. Attendees at the 2019 edition of our event, in Berlin, might recall futurist Ben Hammersley as one of the highlights. It probably won’t surprise them, then, that going digital has blunted none of his appeal. In fact, Hammersley turned in another thought-provoking performance centred on everyone’s favourite subject these days: covid-19.

The short version? Hammersley believes there’s no going back to business as usual, even when a vaccine is found.

That’s because, by the time one is mass produced and distributed, all the processes we have got used to (hello, Zoom) to conduct business during the covid era will have solidified. What’s more, businesses will have concluded many of these processes are more efficient and cheaper (always a good motivator) than the old way of doing things. Meaning, those wanting to go back to how things were will – when they are finally able to do so – find the world has moved on.

Click here to view Hammersley’s talk. Just check your nostalgia at the door, first.

Blackstone & Macquarie hit the Autostrade
Back in June, Macquarie was said to be considering joining Italian state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti in acquiring Atlantia’s 88 percent stake in Autostrade per l’Italia. The duo have now added Blackstone to the consortium, The Pipeline understands, submitting a bid over the weekend that could be reviewed today.

However, one source described the talks as “one last attempt to reach an agreement”, after negotiations stalled in July. The main sticking point has been Atlantia’s insistence the company is not held liable for any future claims against ASPI related to the collapse of the Morandi Bridge in Genoa that killed 43 people in 2018. That issue “has not yet been resolved”, the source added.

An accepted bid could end a process that has included threats from the Italian government to revoke ASPI’s concessions and Atlantia taking its case to Brussels. A rejection will cause more roadblocks ahead for all parties.

CDP, Blackstone and Macquarie declined to comment. Atlantia did not respond to a request for comment.

Flow of capital primed with €500m hydro fund launch
Renewables are in vogue, both for their resiliency and ESG credentials, and managers and investors alike are keen to take advantage of the opportunity. Still, not everyone is going down the well-trodden wind and solar route.

Germany-based Climate Endowment Group has teamed up with Austrian hydropower specialist eHydro500 to launch the Climate Endowment Hydropower Fund, which will look to raise about €500 million, albeit through an open-end structure. It will target greenfield and brownfield assets between 10MW and 50MW. The pair said the long life of hydropower assets “is an enormous advantage for investors”, despite admitting the sector has been “niche” for institutional investors.

Being niche, however, could prove to be a benefit. Michael Bonte-Friedheim, founder and chief executive of UK-based solar fund manager NextEnergy Capital, told our Global Online Summit last week of the benefits of a single technology focus, and said “specialists will always outperform”.

No pressure, then, on the German-Austrian duo as fundraising kicks off.

Grapevine

“It’s not policy that’s going to stop nuclear – it’s obsolescence”

Megawatt-X’s Laurent Segalen predicted a bleak future for nuclear power at last week’s Global Summit Online

Who’s hiring

Friends reunited
The expanding credit and emerging markets businesses at Global Infrastructure Partners just brought on some extra help from a familiar face. Jim Amine, the Credit Suisse veteran, who left his post as managing director in March after 24 years at the Swiss bank, has joined his former colleagues at GIP.

Founder Adebayo Ogunlesi was previously global head of investment banking at Credit Suisse, before founding GIP in 2006, now a $74 billion infrastructure giant. After creating an equity-focused business that has closed some of the industry’s largest funds, GIP has been focusing on building credit and emerging markets strategies.

Armine will join other high-profile financiers who have landed at the firm recently, including Noah Keys, Jennifer Powers, formerly of Mizuho Bank, and Jim Yong Kim, who previously served as president of the World Bank.

Deals

Solar panel
Sunny future: CDPQ plans to double down on Spanish solar

Seventy’s plenty, but only the start for CDPQ in Spain
Performing due diligence, particularly in this day and age, on 73 different solar sites is no easy feat, but was one completed by Canadian pension Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec after it bought a 216MW portfolio in Spain from Q-Energy.

CDPQ, however, is not done there. The deal is its first infrastructure equity transaction in the country and is “laying the foundation of our renewables platform in Spain”, according to a statement from Emmanuel Jaclot, head of infrastructure at CDPQ, with a spokesman telling The Pipeline this could be doubled or even tripled in the near future.

CDPQ is not a stranger to the sector in Spain, completing a debt investment there in July 2018. It’s the second recent Canadian pension entrant to Spanish solar after OPTrust bought a 100MW portfolio, alongside Macquarie’s Green Investment Group, in January.

How times can change for the once beleaguered sectors.

Doubling down on the new economy
Apollo Global Management made clear last week that the future of infrastructure is focused on two sectors in particular: renewable energy and communications.

The New York-based private equity firm formed a joint venture with the renewables arm of Canadian company Altius Minerals Corporation. Through it, Apollo is planning to invest up to $200 million to purchase up to a 50 percent stake in Altius subsidiary Great Bay Renewables, a capital provider to renewables developers, founded in 2017.

Apollo also announced the acquisition of Parallel Infrastructure, a US telecoms tower platform from real estate group Lendlease.

Spokesmen for Apollo labelled both deals as “critical” infrastructure and investment endeavours. Renewables and communications have seen a flood of capital in recent years, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

A great starting point, it would seem, for Apollo’s fledgling infrastructure business.


Today’s letter was prepared by Zak Bentley. Bruno Alves, Kalliope Gourntis and Jordan Stutts also contributed

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