All rights reserved. SecondaryLink is not optimized for your browser, please upgrade to a newer browser for a better user experience and security - [View Options]. Manager Login. About Northleaf has developed an innovative infrastructure investment program designed to address the challenges inherent in building a diversified portfolio of infrastructure assets in a cost-effective manner.
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The transaction includes Mackenzie and Lifeco jointly acquiring a Mackenzie and Lifeco will have an obligation and right to purchase an additional equity and voting interest in the firm commencing in approximately five years and extending into future periods. The company provides a broad range of financial planning and investment management services to help more than two million Canadians meet their financial goals.
For more information, visit igmfinancial. Mackenzie provides investment solutions and related services to more than one million retail and institutional clients through multiple distribution channels. For more information, visit mackenzieinvestments. Great-West Lifeco Inc. Great-West Lifeco is an international financial services holding company with interests in life insurance, health insurance, retirement and investment services, asset management and reinsurance businesses.
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Generally speaking, though, we see demand for co-investment across most OECD countries, among mid-size institutions and upwards. These are investors that have built an internal team, have already made a number of fund investments and have some co-investment experience under their belt.
They trust their managers and are starting to double down on opportunities through a co-investment programme alongside those managers. We are also seeing certain investors co-investing in particular sub-sectors or regions. In addition, we are seeing a lot of activity from sovereign wealth funds, with significant allocations to infrastructure to be invested — a portion of which is for co-investment.
Is a willingness to offer co-investment a significant factor in primary fundraising? Typically, investors will ask to see the history of co-investment opportunities that the manager has offered and ask for insight into which deals in the pipeline are expected to require co-investment capital.
Investors do need to be aware that the types of investments they are targeting might not necessarily be the investments that are offered as co-investments. As a passive investor looking for co-investment opportunities, you are subject to dealflow, which may or may not match the goals that you have. Equally, a lot of investors will look to test out a new relationship with a co-investment so that they can assess whether a manager is targeting investments that are attractive to them.
Then, if they like the way the manager conducts due diligence and runs its investments, they can progress to a fund commitment. Mula is a MW utility-scale project, situated on 1, hectares in the Murcia region of Spain.
Having worked through installation, Mula is now operational and provides enough clean energy to supply a city of more than , people. In doing so, it is reducing carbon emissions by an estimated , tonnes per year.
This aligns with our focus firmly in the mid-market. These types of ticket size can have a significant impact on whether a transaction gets done. Do you sometimes find, then, that investors are looking to put too much money to work? That definitely can be the case. Within those geographies, they are typically targeting co-investments in traditional infrastructure sectors. Most of our investors are in the earlier stages of building out their co-investment portfolios, so for them it really is about looking for investments in countries with a demonstrated commitment to the rule of law, with a strong record of private ownership and a long usage history, if applicable.
In other words, we target traditional, hard assets in developed markets. How would you describe your appetite for offering co-investment? Has it changed and, if so, why? We have offered co-investment since day one. What has changed for us, though, is that the number of investors interested in pursuing co-investment opportunities has increased and we are managing that by creating additional co-investment allocations.
For instance, in the past, when co-investment appetite was more limited, we might have brought another financial partner on board to complete a transaction. Now we look to co-investors that have participated in our funds in the first instance.
How are your co-investments typically being structured and how do they work in practice? Our co-investors typically invest through a limited partnership that sits alongside our fund vehicles. That goes back to the importance of Northleaf being able to control the asset with a view to creating long-term value.
Depending on the transaction, there may be one or more investors in that co-investment limited partnership. There may also be multiple limited partnerships in order to satisfy various requirements of different types of investors, from different geographies. In terms of the transaction process itself, our investors are primarily looking for sell-down opportunities, rather than co-bid situations.
So, we have typically agreed a deal, at the very least, and perhaps even closed it, before we look to syndicate part of the exposure to our co-investors, as opposed to bringing the co-investors in at the time when we are negotiating a transaction. Finally, we are also seeing growing interest among investors for discretionary, pooled, co-investment vehicles, where the manager has the ability to deploy capital to top up whichever deals need additional capital.
Does post-agreement syndication help investors get around the challenge of tight timelines with co-investment? Interestingly, timelines can be tight — even in a sell down situation. There is always a learning curve for managers and co-investors that takes place over the first few deals that are completed together. It is important that investors are well equipped and able to move quickly. A co-investment might need to be executed in anywhere between four and 12 weeks, even in a post-deal syndication.
Investors therefore need to be nimble and able to manage their approval processes quickly. That said, there is absolutely more flexibility in a syndication than a co-bid. The other advantage is that the diligence material is already packaged and everything has been done. In a co-bid situation, you are completing due diligence in real time and may be getting advice or reports coming in throughout the process, which can be more challenging for investors that really do need due diligence materials pre-packaged to take to their investment committee.
Something that we really value is transparency from our co-investors. It is helpful for co-investors to keep us up-to-date as they work their way through their due diligence and their approval processes. Is the transaction looking good? Do you expect any pushback? Have there been any delays in your timeline? Having open and honest dialogue is absolutely critical. It can be very difficult for Northleaf if we are working with only one co-investor, for example, and then we find out at the 11th hour that their investment committee has turned the deal down.
Were there signs along the way that could have been shared? Is there anything that we could perhaps have done to help them understand and to get the deal over the line? Good communication is essential. We expect to see co-investment, and investment in infrastructure more broadly, continue to grow in size and sophistication.
Click here. Don't have an account? Register now. What we have seen over the past few years is fund sizes increasing substantially, regardless of jurisdiction. Global funds. Regional funds. Across the board, average fund sizes are growing. What makes that midmarket space an attractive investment proposition on a relative basis? There continues to be a very high number of opportunities at the small and mid-sized level. The way that our economies are constructed means that there are many small power investments, small communications investments and small transportation investments available.
But as you increase in scale, the number of large airports, or large utilities that are available is going to be very restricted at any given time. That level of choice that we see in the mid-market leads to less competitive intensity, and that is one of the most attractive characteristics of the space. There may be less competition than in the mega-market, but have you seen competitive dynamics change?
There are absolutely more managers coming to market. But when that is coupled with growing opportunity sets, the dynamics are still highly favourable. There are new greenfield investment opportunities. There are many opportunities to privatise or commercialise government assets. And then there are assets that need to be carved out of large corporations. There are plenty of deals to go around. The two main areas where we are seeing attractive investment opportunities of our target size are renewable power and communications infrastructure.
We are active in wind, solar, geothermal and battery storage, and we are active from commencement of installation through to long-term ownership in our target countries which are the US, Canada, Australia and selectively in Western Europe. From a communications infrastructure perspective, we primarily invest in small, fully contracted data centres and fibre investments, but we have also been reviewing select investments in towers.
In many of the countries where we operate, and in particular in the US, these markets remain highly fragmented and so there are numerous smaller, less identifiable investment opportunities that can then be scaled, either through installation activities or through acquisitions, to create more diversified and valuable assets.
How would you describe LP appetite for North American mid-market infrastructure? There is no doubt that we are seeing increasing levels of LP interest in the mid-market. The vast majority of capital over recent years has gone into those very large funds. But now, after a period of digestion, investors are seeing advantages in diversifying into the mid-market, which gives them a very different set of exposures.
Our investments tend to involve assets that do one thing. At the smaller end of the market, the risk exposures are more straightforward. Given that there are so many potential opportunities in the midmarket, what is your approach to origination and asset selection?
Since the inception of our programme, we have completed a continual mapping exercise through which we identify suitable sub asset classes in the countries that we target. We then look for industrial or developer relationships, specifically in areas that we view as less competitive — areas where it is more difficult to run auction processes.
We begin meeting with groups at trade shows, through mutual contacts and through our network of nine operating partners that work with us covering specific subsectors, helping us source, diligence and manage investments. From there, we create a pipeline of investments. The transactions we most commonly end up pursuing, meanwhile, involve undercapitalised industrial companies, or involve us coming in as capital partners alongside developers.
That, fundamentally, is how we approach origination. In the context of renewable power, that will often include the completion of installation at various locations. It may involve extending revenue agreements or operational agreements to create value. And it could include securing different types of financing — debt financing or tax equity financing, for example.
In other sectors, we may look at scaling through acquisition. A common value creation strategy in the data centre space, for example, involves identifying small, fully contracted data centres that are under the radar and aggregating them into larger pools. That type of activity creates scale, diversity and visibility, which is, in itself, a value creation strategy.
Are there any challenges that you would particularly associate with mid-market infrastructure investment? One of the principal challenges of the mid-market is that we are typically working with smaller industrial companies and developers that will often not have the time or resources to create properly packaged information. That means we often end up co-creating transactions with them, and working alongside them to create that information, and that can take a very long time.
It is not uncommon for us to spend up to one or two years on a particular deal. In addition, smaller groups will often not be able to hire bankers or advisers to assist them. It is important to be collaborative, in that sense, because the counterparties we are working with may not have the same level of resources that one might expect to find at the larger end of the market. What impact has covid had on your portfolio companies and on your ability to transact? We quickly moved each of our investee businesses to a business continuity plan and all onsite workers received additional training.
They have all been working under strict social distancing practices and their health is regularly monitored. Where we have office workers, they are highly encouraged to work from home and only the most essential workers have remained onsite. Because we have taken those steps, we have not had any operational shutdowns as a result of covid
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