Whitehelm Capital born from merger

Access Capital Advisers will merge with Challenger’s infrastructure arm to form a new business with A$4bn under management.

Australian Stock Exchange-listed financial services firm Challenger Limited is to merge its infrastructure activities with Access Capital Advisers on 1 July to form a new infrastructure business called Whitehelm Capital.

The merged entity will have 48 employees in offices in Sydney, London, Singapore and Canberra, and A$4 billion (€2.7 billion; $3.8 billion) under management

Challenger Limited managed more than A$49.5 billion in retirement savings at the end of March 2014. Its infrastructure activities are currently part of Challenger Investment Partners, a manager of listed and unlisted equity and debt.

The activities include a 50 percent stake in Challenger’s Emerging Markets Infrastructure Fund joint venture with Mitsui & Co, individual management agreements with various Australian super funds, and an investment management agreement (IMA) with Challenger Life, the life insurance arm of Challenger, in relation to a range of infrastructure investments.

Access Capital Advisers is an infrastructure advisory and fund management business with direct investments in 25 assets around the world including the likes of Adelaide Airport and GasValpo, the largest gas distribution business in Chile. It offers separate, bespoke managed accounts to mainly Australian and European pension fund clients.

Whitehelm will be 70 percent-owned by employees of the business, with 23 percent each held by Access Capital Advisers’ chief executive Graham Matthews and head of Australian investments Tom Snow and a further 24 percent held by other senior managers. The remaining 30 percent will be held by Fidante Partners, Challenger’s boutique funds management business.

Matthews has been appointed interim chief executive officer of the new business while executive search firm Egon Zehnder hunts for someone to fill the role on a permanent basis.

“The merger will allow us to better serve our existing clients through scale and combined expertise,” said Matthews in a statement.

Challenger executive Phil Peters, who will become a director of Whitehelm, added that the new firm would target core infrastructure in sectors such as regulated utilities, toll roads and airports in Australia, Asia, Europe, North America and South America.