Dutch pension fund manager APG, AustralianSuper and Global infrastructure Partners (GIP) are buying a 37.4% stake in UK’s second-largest port group from DWS.

The trio have agreed to buy the stake in Peel Ports Group for an undisclosed amount.

In July last year, AS Infra PP, acting on behalf of AustralianSuper, acquired a 25% shareholding in Peel Ports. Following last year’s deal, the shareholders of Peel Ports comprised Peel Group with a 37.6% stake, DWS with a 37.4% holding and AustralianSuper with a 25% stake. 

Peel Ports has seven ports that serve a broad variety of customers and handle a diversified range of cargoes, from locations in Liverpool, Manchester, London Medway, Glasgow, Dublin and Great Yarmouth. The company operates through the core business segments of ports and shipping.

Nik Kemp, AustralianSuper’s head of infrastructure, said: “Generating the opportunity to increase our ownership interest in Peel Ports to be the largest shareholder behind The Peel Group highlights the fund’s desire to acquire high-quality infrastructure assets as we aim to continue to grow the portfolio materially in the years ahead.

“Peel Ports is a high-quality infrastructure asset that has proven to be a resilient investment and continues to contribute positively to the retirement savings of our members.”

Mark Whitworth, the CEO of Peel Ports Group, said: “The ambitious partnership between shareholders and management has been a cornerstone of the company’s success and we look forward to building on those achievements with our new like-minded shareholders APG and GIP, alongside The Peel Group and AustralianSuper.”

Patrick Kanters, managing director of real assets at APG, said: “The investment in Peel Ports, on behalf of our pension fund clients, represents an attractive opportunity to gain access to a high-quality, robust infrastructure asset with promising long-term growth potential.”

Kanters said APG has been involved in Peel Ports since 2006 and “we are pleased to convert our existing exposure into a larger direct investment”.

“As a pension investor, we are constantly looking for attractive investments in infrastructure worldwide, to achieve stable and long-term returns for our pension fund clients and their participants.”

Michael McGhee, GIP partner, said: “GIP has deep experience and a strong track record of investing in and driving value from landlord ports. We regard Peel Ports as the premier landlord port company in the UK and a leader in the private ownership model for landlord ports globally.”

DWS has invested in Peel Ports since 2006 when the manager bought a 49.9% interest in the company.

Hamish Mackenzie, the head of Infrastructure at DWS, said: “Peel Ports was our flagship investment for our pan-European infrastructure strategy outperforming our original investment case.

”DWS’ active asset management approach has driven growth in the business, along with Peel Ports’ demonstrated resilience through economic cycles since acquisition.”

The deal, which is subject to regulatory review and approvals, is expected to close in the first quarter of next year.

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