AMP Capital has increased its stake in a AUD3.5bn (€2.7bn) Australian desalination project from 5.2% to 9.75% on behalf of its Community Infrastructure Fund (CommIF).

CommIF has bought the 4.55% stake in Victorian Desalination Project (VDP) from France-based multinational utility group Suez, which, IPE Real Assets understands, retains a minority stake in the plant, the largest of its type in the southern hemisphere.

CommIF took a 5.2% share in VDP in September 2016, acquired from Pacific Partnerships.

AMP Capital’s head of social infrastructure and aged care, Julie-Anne Mizzi, described the investment as “a high-quality” asset and “an excellent investment for our portfolio”. 

She said: “Demand for social infrastructure continues to go from strength to strength. This is due to its investment characteristics, such as secure revenue from government-backed concessions and low correlation to traditional asset classes.”

Mizzi said such infrastructure investment is also seen as important for its contribution to local communities.

The desalination project is an AUD3.5bn investment between the Victorian Government and AquaSure, a company contracted to finance, design, construct, operate and maintain the asset for 30 years.

There are 22 years remaining to the end of the concession.

With this acquisition, the AMP Capital fund, which invests in high-yield, brownfield, social infrastructure PPP assets in Australia and New Zealand, now has interests worth more than AUD590m in 12 separate assets.

AMP Capital acquired CommIF in 2010 from the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The fund’s net asset value has grown tenfold, from approximately AUD55m in September 2010.