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UK pensions infrastructure fund marks milestone on solar investment

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A collective programme for UK pension funds to invest in infrastructure has reached a milestone as its second investment proposition received £131m (€182m) in commitments after its first round of raising.

The Pensions Infrastructure Platform (PIP), organised and hosted by the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF), has now raised more than £600m from pension schemes for UK infrastructure projects.

The platform’s addition of a solar investment was announced in February, managed by Aviva Investors, which joins Dalmore Capital as the PIP’s external managers.

Investors in the Aviva fund include the £15.5bn Strathclyde Pension Fund, which announced a commitment of £20m in a meeting last month, alongside other Local Government Pension Schemes (LGPS) and private sector defined benefit schemes.

The fund is said to provide inflation-linked cashflows by investing in small-scale solar panel installations in the UK, and will provide a quarterly income to investors.

Mike Weston, the PIP’s chief executive, said raising £131m in four months demonstrated the appetite for core infrastructure assets from UK pension funds.

“It is also further evidence of the progress PIP is making in delivering a range of infrastructure investment opportunities tailored to the specific needs of UK pension schemes,” he added.

The PIP was set up by the NAPF on a ‘for pension funds, by pension funds’ basis and began investing in public/private partnership (PPP) equity last year via Dalmore Capital.

It operates on a not-for-profit basis and currently uses two external managers to invest pension fund capital into UK infrastructure projects.

Dalmore has more than £500m in commitments in its PPP Equity PIP fund, from more than 10 UK pension funds brought in via the NAPF’s work.

The new Aviva fund will soft close at the current level but continue raising up to £250m until the autumn.

Matthew Graham, a business development director at Aviva Investors, said: “Since it was announced, this fund has attracted strong investor interest.

“The proposition in infrastructure has been designed to respond to client needs, offering long-term, secure, inflation-linked income that can provide attractive risk-adjusted returns.”

The PIP, which retains its capital target of £2bn, is currently working towards being authorised the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to build up an internal asset management team.

The PIP is also set to launch a multi-strategy infrastructure investment fund, which has been already developed by the organisation and will be launched once FCA authorisation is given.

Speaking in February, Weston said he expected the PIP to hold a mixture of direct and indirect investments over the long term – using the two external funds as a starting point.

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