Aussie firms guide US pension fund’s first Asia-Pac investment

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Minter Ellison has advised the largest US public pension plan fund on its infrastructure partnership with QIC.

The deal marks the first major investment by a US pension fund in infrastructure in the Asia Pacific region. 

The fund, CalPERS, has a total fund market of around US$307bn. Its $1bn partnership with QIC to invest in infrastructure continues the expansion of the fund’s infrastructure investment program, which is currently worth around US$2.1bn in assets.

The partnership arrangement will seek to invest in high quality infrastructure assets across water, power, transportation and energy sectors.

Acting as Australian Counsel to CalPERS, lead partner Sam MacGibbon said that while the partnership marks the first investment of a US pension fund here, it’s hardly surprising given the strength of Australia’s infrastructure market.

“Australia, and Asia Pacific more broadly, is one of the most attractive infrastructure markets in the world and the partnership between CalPERS and QIC indicates the high level of interest by international pension funds in both existing and greenfield infrastructure assets in this region,” said MacGibbon. 

“Across Australia there is store of high quality infrastructure assets that are very attractive to investors including roads, rail, ports and electricity assets. There are also enormous opportunities arising out of Asia's urbanisation and rising living standards.”

He said that although it is early days to predict whether other US pension funds will follow suit, he hasn’t ruled out further interest in the region.

“This signals the first major US pension fund looking to invest in clean infrastructure in the region,” he said.
  “Canadian pension funds have been here for some time and they’ve been involved in acquiring some of the larger assets but this is really the first time we have seen US pension funds here.”

Clayton Utz acted as Australian counsel to QIC.