November 14, 2015 / 9:10 PM / 3 years ago

Canadian pension funds to buy Chicago toll road operator for $2.8 bln

TORONTO (Reuters) - Three of Canada’s largest pension fund managers said on Friday that they would acquire the operator of the Chicago Skyway toll road for $2.8 billion.

The downtown skyline is seen in Chicago Illinois, September 26, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan will each own a one-third interest in Skyway Concession Co LLC, which has an agreement to operate the road until 2104.

Each of the three Toronto-based pension fund managers will contribute an equity investment of about $512 million toward the deal, which remains subject to regulatory approvals.

The 7.8-mile Chicago Skyway is the only Illinois toll highway not operated by the state Toll Highway Authority. SCC was awarded operation rights on the road in January 2005 for $1.83 billion.

“Skyway represents a rare opportunity for us to invest in a mature and significant toll road of this size in the U.S.,” Cressida Hogg, CPPIB’s head of infrastructure, said in a joint statement.

“This investment fits well with CPPIB’s strategy to invest in core infrastructure assets with long-term, stable cash flows in key global markets,” Hogg said.

The three pension funds and peers like Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, British Columbia Investment Management Corp and Alberta Investment Management Corp manage vast amounts of capital and have emerged in the last few years as big investors in infrastructure assets outside Canada.

The fund managers, which are scouting for long-life revenue-generating assets, have made significant bets in physical assets like farmland, forests, ports, real estate and hydro-electric power projects.

CPPIB, the largest of the group, managed net assets valued at C$272.9 billion ($205 billion) as of the end of September. It had invested about C$19.5 billion of that in infrastructure.

Ralph Berg, OMERS global head of infrastructure, said the Skyway investment fit with the fund’s goal of acquiring North American infrastructure assets.

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