GLOBAL – Austria's Erste Group has advised a consortium comprising a pension fund-owned investor and an insurer on the purchase of a Czech gas network operator, and said the deal was part of a growing trend.

Borealis Infrastructure, an infrastructure investor owned by Canadian pension fund Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, and Allianz Capital Partners, which is Allianz Group’s alternative asset investment platform, joined forces to buy the Czech gas network operator NET4GAS from German energy giant RWE.

They were advised by Erste Group and its Czech subsidiary Ceska sporitelna in the €1.6bn deal, which gave both parties an equal 50% share in the company.

NET4GAS owns and operates a network of more than 3,600km of high-pressure pipes for domestic gas provision in the Czech Republic, as well as the export of gas to other countries across Europe.

"Infrastructure funds, pension funds and insurers are currently looking for new investment opportunities in the infrastructure sector, such as transport and distribution networks [and] investments for renewable energies," Este Group said.

It added that it expected the regulated energy sector to "continue to offer attractive investment opportunities for institutional investors". 

In June, Borealis was part of a group that failed to take over UK utility firm Severn Trent.

Two years ago, a consortium of German Versorgungswerke acquired German power grid operator Amprion from RWE, which said the sale was part of its strategy to focus on its core business.

IPE and Stirling Capital Partners are co-hosting a conference, Infrastructure for Pension Funds and Other Capital Owners, to take place on 2 October in London. For more information, click here.