Trio of ex-JLIF advisors to list £200m infra fund

The Tri-Pillar Infrastructure Fund will target greenfield and brownfield investments in both Europe and the US, with an expected IRR of between 8% and 10%.

A co-founder of UK-listed John Laing Infrastructure Fund has launched a new vehicle with the aim of raising £200 million ($263.9 million; €224.4 million) from a listing on London’s main stock market.

Andrew Charlesworth, who helped raise £270 million for JLIF’s 2010 listing before leaving in May, has become partner and chief executive of Tri-Pillar Infrastructure Fund. He will be joined by fellow partner and chief financial officer Ian Ruddock, who served as strategic advisor to the JLIF board between 2014 and 2017. Vikki Everett, founder of Garnet Consultancy, which provided advice to JLIF on 28 of its investments, will also join as chief investment officer.

They are accompanied by Norman Anderson, president and chief executive of US advisory firm CG/LA Infrastructure, as chief development officer, although he will continue in his current role. Roger Mountford, chairman of HgCapital Trust and an advisor to the UK government on airports and the HS2 railway project, has come on board as non-executive chairman.

“Over the last year or so at JLIF I saw the opportunity shifting from PPP, government-backed availability-based assets and more towards the international market,” Charlesworth told Infrastructure Investor.

American Dream

Tri-Pillar Infrastructure Fund expects to list its shares early next month and has already identified a pipeline of investments with a total purchase price value of more than £500 million, several of which are based in the US.

“My thinking was well before the presidential election,” Charlesworth added. “The Trump administration is one of the ingredients that could lead to a significant development of the North American infrastructure market. It doesn’t matter who is in the White House. You’ve got dams that are failing, bridges that are collapsing and tunnels that need replacement. It’s very much about the underlying need.”

President Trump was recently said to be rowing back on the idea of using PPPs as the model for the US, but Charlesworth remains undeterred.

“There are a number of projects in the US that don’t rely on a P3 programme coming out of the White House,” he said. “The presidential order is about reducing red tape, it’s not about defining at federal level what is going to be financed.”

Two European opportunities are well-advanced, with the fund reaching the second stage of a competitive bidding process for a set of education, healthcare, public office, solar, road and communications assets valued at €160 million. It is also in exclusive negotiations for a UK recycling project requiring about £50 million investment with a projected IRR of between 15 percent and 20 percent.

Tri-Pillar will be targeting a total IRR of between 8 percent and 10 percent over the long term. It outlined a determination to differentiate itself from other funds in market, saying that “the pipeline of investments with solely availability-based payments has reduced and competition for such investments has driven up prices”. It will seek a combination of demand-based and availability-based assets – including PPPs – in both operational and greenfield markets and a portfolio balanced between Europe and the US. Targeted sectors include utilities, social infrastructure and transport.

Tri-Pillar is also in early discussions with potential investors regarding a US-focused private fund, targeted at bringing US money into local projects, although Charlesworth was unable to put a size or timeframe on this vehicle.