GLOBAL - An Australian pension fund has upped its stake in Victoria's Geelong Port to 50% with the acquisition of a 15% share from the Australian Infrastructure Fund, a listed transport infrastructure vehicle.
John McCarthy, managing director and global head of RREEF Infrastructure, which acquired the additional 15% shareholding on behalf of the unnamed superannuation fund, told IP Real Estate: "Broadly speaking, we're interested in ports - but only if we're investing in a port in its entirety.
"We're not interested in investing in terminals, only in waterways and port operations. If you invest in terminals, you're investing in a competitive environment where the actions of the other terminal operators may be contrary to the drivers for your investment in the first place."
He added: "Not all ports are of the same quality. There are significant differences in the risk profiles. In this case, we've had a management team in place for some time."
The management team - port operator Asciano, which announces its results later this week - acquired the other 20% of the Australian Infrastructure Fund's 35% interest in the port.
The fund sold the combined stakes for AUD24.9m (€20.3m), citing its publicly announced intention to divest non-core assets "on appropriate terms".
Asciano last January appointed as its new chief executive John Mullen to expand the transport infrastructure firm's operations in essential-service sectors with demand for significant investment in critical infrastructure, high barriers to entry and the potential for long-term partnerships.
Mullen restructured his senior leadership team last month.
RREEF Infrastructure first invested in the Victoria port when it was privatised in 1996.
Although the Deutsche Bank subsidiary takes an asset-based approach to investing, McCarthy said domestic pension schemes were keen to gain exposure to the Australian dollar.
"They prefer exposure to Australian inflation and interest rates, rather than those elsewhere," he said.