US real assets firm buys half of Amber

The transaction will allow INPP, a London-listed fund advised by the UK manager, to have a “first look” at US opportunities explored by El-Paso based Hunt.

Hunt Companies (Hunt), a US real assets developer, investor and manager, has acquired a 50 percent holding in London-based Amber Infrastructure Group (Amber).

The remaining stake will remain in the hands of the firm’s management team. In a bid to “create long-term alignment”, the terms of the transaction forbid any sale of shares by either Hunt or Amber’s management for at least four years, the company said in a statement.

Amber will continue to advise International Public Partnerships (INPP), a London-listed fund focused on public-private partnership (PPP) and private finance initiative projects, following the deal. It will also keep its 8 million shares – representing a stake of about 1 percent – in the vehicle.

As part of the transaction, INPP will be granted a “first look” at investment targets in the US that meet its mandate.

“The Hunt Group of Companies are significant participants in public sector infrastructure in the US which is seen by the company as a significant growth market for infrastructure investment in the medium term,” said Rupert Dorey, chairmain of INPP, in a statement.

Aside from INPP, Amber advises the £100 million (€136 million; $149 million) London Energy Efficiency Fund, the £50 million Scottish Partnership for Regeneration in Urban Centres vehicle and the £55 million Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales. It has about £5 billion of assets under management in the UK, Europe, Australia and Canada.

Giles Frost, chief executive of the company, said that Hunt and Amber had a very similar range of experience, not only in infrastructure but also in other areas such as renewables and property.

“The US is the biggest infrastructure market in the developed world. We have long said that we will only make progress in that market with a strong experienced local partner.”

Founded in 1947, the Hunt Companies are involved in the development, construction, financing, and management of PPPs at the US federal, state, and local levels. They have a net asset value of more than $1 billion and over $25 billion of assets under management.