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Buyout firm Ardian sells 1 billion euro infrastructure asset portfolio

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Buyout firm Ardian sells 1 billion euro infrastructure asset portfolio

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By Dasha Afanasieva

LONDON (Reuters) - Ardian has agreed to sell its stake in infrastructure assets to existing shareholder pension fund APG, in a deal which values the entire portfolio at more than 1 billion euros (900 million pounds) the private equity firm told Reuters.

The portfolio is comprised of investments in Italian gas distribution company 2i Rete Gas, French LGV Lisea, Spanish toll road Trados M-45, French rail GSM communications' network Synerail, French renewable energy company Kallista Energy, Italian Renewable energy company 3 New & Partners, French toll road A88 and Italian hospital HISI Legnano.

Ardian declined to say what percentage of the portfolio changed hands or how much APG paid in this transaction. Insurer AXA remains a shareholder in the portfolio with an undisclosed stake.

Paris-based Ardian said it will remain the asset manager and adviser for the portfolio, whose equity value including minority stakes was more than 1 billion euros.

However, the enterprise value of the portfolio, which includes debt, exceeds 10 billion euros, Mathias Burghardt, who is a member of Ardian's executive committee said, adding that all the assets were valued above their net asset value.

The sale is an example of an exit strategy for an infrastructure fund which is tailored to the varied time horizons of different investment funds, signalling the maturing of the relatively new infrastructure investing industry.

"By organising a competitive auction, we have given liquidity to some investors in ten years while allowing others to remain on as shareholders," Burghardt said.

The transaction is subject to regulatory approval.

APG is one of the biggest Dutch pension funds with 467 billion euros in assets under management, while French insurer and fund manager AXA has almost 1.5 trillion euros.

Ardian has assets of $66 billion which it manages or advises on in Europe, North America and Asia and is majority-owned by its employees. The group is in the process of raising an infrastructure fund for assets in the United States.

(Reporting by Dasha Afanasieva; editing by Alexander Smith and Jane Merriman)

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