Two weeks ago Fiera Capital Corporation closed its joint venture with Toronto-based Aquila Infrastructure Management. The deal creates a new entity, Fiera Infrastructure, and with committed capital of approximately $500 million, there are plenty of opportunities in the pipeline for the firm.
Overseeing operations will be Alina Osorio, previously the president of Aquila. With over two decades of investment experience, encompassing stints at RBC, MacQuarie and OPTrust, she is well placed to discuss the benefits of Fiera’s marriage to Aquila.
“The infrastructure asset class is increasingly attractive and becoming more prevalent on the investment side,” she says. “Fiera now have added a new asset class to the range of offerings they provide for their investors.”
Already holding over $109 billion in assets under management, Fiera will be aiming to expand the choices it can provide to its institutional, private and retail clients across North America. Osorio explains how Fiera Infrastructure will have a large part to play in its parent company’s ambitions.
“Infrastructure means hard assets, so it has very stable and predictable cash flow and returns,” she says. “It tends to be uncorrelated to economic conditions – people have to use roads, hospitals, power, gas, water. It also tends to provide inflation protection as well. In many ways it is a very defensive asset class.”
Most recently Fiera added five major Public Private Partnerships across Canada to its infrastructure portfolio. And when it comes to the firm’s strategy for making deals, patience is a virtue in Osorio’s view.
“We are very diligent with what projects we get in to,” she says. “Right now we are in final discussions on 3–4 transactions. It’s a process; we do very careful due diligence, financial modeling and negotiations on terms so our transactions often take a while to conclude. Right now we have opportunities in the US, Canada, the UK and Europe, so it’s an interesting pipeline.”
With three hydro-electric facilities, one in British Colombia and two in the US, plus an interest in Thames Water in the UK, Fiera Infrastructure is now looking for similar projects heading forward. Its president explains why she is confident the newly formed company can find the right deals to fulfill the clients’ lofty ambitions.
“There is a strong need for investment in infrastructure and at the same time investors are looking for predictable cash flowing assets that are safer than some of the alternatives,” she says. “Our role is to bring together those two sides.”
Fiera Capital targets huge deal
Alternatives ripe for growth heading forward, says AIMA Canada COO