Canadian pension fund acquires stake in Aussie electric company
TransGrid marks OMERS second infrastructure investment down under, after the Port of Melbourne
29 Jul 2020 | Michael Marray

CANADIAN pension fund Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) has acquired a 19.99% stake in Australian electricity transmission company TransGrid.

The stake was sold by London based Wren House Infrastructure Management, which is a captive infrastructure investment manager, and a subsidiary of the Kuwait Investment Authority.

TransGrid is now owned by Spark Infrastructure (an Australian investment firm specializing in the electicity sector), Utilities Trust of Australia, Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, Tawreed Investments Limited, and OMERS.

The price paid for the stake was not disclosed. In 2015, TransGrid was sold by the New South Wales government to the consortium for A$10.3 billion (US$7.31 billion). 

“TransGrid is poised to both continue making a crucial contribution to Australia’s electricity needs, while also playing a key role in helping reduce carbon emissions from the country’s electricity grid,” comments Ralph Berg, global head of infrastructure, OMERS Infrastructure.

“This announcement also represents an increasing role for OMERS in the growth and development of New South Wales, which includes the substantial investment being undertaken by OMERS-owned Oxford Properties in the Sydney Metro Pitt Street over-station development,” adds Christopher Curtain, managing director-Australia, OMERS Infrastructure.

TransGrid’s high-voltage transmission network connects around eight million people in New South Wales.

With more than 500,000 members of its pension schemes, OMERS has C$109 billion (US$81.66 billion) of assets under management. It is a major global investor in infrastructure, mainly in North America and Europe. However, in recent years it has been increasing its activity in Asia, having opened a Singapore office in 2018.

In February 2019, OMERS Infrastructure acquired a 22.4% interest in IndInfravit Trust for a total consideration of 8.7 billion Indian rupees (US$120 million).

IndInfravit, listed on the National Stock Exchange of India Limited as well as BSE Limited (formerly known as Bombay Stock Exchange), holds a portfolio of five operational toll road concessions. Other unit holders include Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Allianz Capital Partners, L&T Infrastructure Development Projects Limited (L&T IDPL), and institutional investors. L&T IDPL is one of the largest multinational construction firms in India, with strong focus on the infrastructure sector. 

Back in September 2016, the Lonsdale Consortium comprising the Future Fund, Queensland Investment Corporation, Global Infrastructure Partners  and OMERS was named by the Victorian Government as the successful acquirer of a 50-year lease of the Port of Melbourne, Australia’s largest container, automotive and general cargo port.

The privatization of TransGrid, under a 99-year lease structure, took place in November 2015. Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec came in with a 25% stake in the consortium, while Tawreed Investments, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority took 20%.

This group beat out competition from a consortium formed by State Grid Corporation of China and Macquarie Infrastructure. 

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