GLOBAL - Australian investment manager Industry Funds Management (IFM) - which has just acquired an 85% stake in the City of Warsaw's heating district network through its Polish business Dalkia Polska - is looking to acquire several other infrastructure projects across Europe in the coming months.

The investment manager, owned by 32 not-for-profit Australian pension funds, bought the 85% interest in the district network through its Polish energy business for a total of $515m (€358m). The remaining 15% will be retained by the employees of the network.

The privatisation of the network, launched by the city of Warsaw, comes at a time when the Polish government is seeking to privatise several assets to reduce borrowing.

Dalkia - in which IFM acquired a 40% stake in July last year - will finance the deal on its balance sheet and now look to invest in modernising the existing network, as well as developing new connections in cooperation with the City of Warsaw.

Christian Seymour, head of infrastructure for Europe at IFM, said the company was attracted to the project because of Poland's strong economic fundamentals and the fact it provided IFM's institutional investors the potential for greater exposure to a regulated and growing energy sector.

"Poland has shown resilience during the economic downturn by continuing its positive GDP growth," he said.

"Based on our analysis, we expect the country to outperform its peers in Central and Eastern Europe, with a forecast GDP growth of 4% in the coming years."

Frédéric Michel-Verdier, executive director at IFM, told IPE the company would continue to seek deals in Poland through Dalkia Polska, as well as well as look at several other infrastructure deals across Europe.

"When we acquired our 40% stake in Dalkia Polska last year, our objective was to use the company as a platform to make further investments in the country and to grow our assets," he said.

"This type of investment matches our strategy of acquiring core, operating infrastructure investments over the long term across Europe and North America."

IFM is looking at other distribution networks in Germany and studying the option of investing in the Madrid and Barcelona airports, which are currently being privatised by the Spanish government.

The investment manager is also in the process of securing additional capital for its open-ended International Infrastructure Fund.