In 2009, New Zealand's new National party led government announced that it was going to procure some social infrastructure as Public Private Partnerships.
Although well known outside of New Zealand, this asset class was new to the New Zealand market. Morrison & Co recognised that its strong infrastructure experience and New Zealand business relationships put it in a position to invest more effectively than competitors.
Morrison & Co launched the Public Infrastructure Partners Fund, New Zealand's first fund dedicated to investing in PPPs. The PIP Fund was raised from New Zealand based investors and had sufficient capital to fund approximately $1 billion of new infrastructure. The New Zealand Superannuation Fund was the cornerstone investor and Morrison & Co secured capital commitments from a number of New Zealand based community trusts and institutional investors. The PIP Fund investor group also included a retail feeder fund managed by a local wealth management business.
In 2009 Morrison & Co raised New Zealand’s only investment vehicle dedicated to Public Private Partnerships ("PPP"); Public Infrastructure Partners LP (PIP Fund):
PIP Fund is an ethical investment vehicle that supports the provision of social infrastructure in New Zealand and Australia
The Fund's PPP investments provide investors with double digit returns that provide protection from movements in CPI
The Fund has exceeded its benchmark return every year since 2013
Investment rationale and strategy
In 2009 New Zealand was ranked 31st in the world by the World Bank for the quality of its infrastructure. The requirement for a significant upgrading of the country’s infrastructure provided long-term investors with an opportunity (low risk investments with good risk adjusted returns).
Morrison & Co identified that the New Zealand market was likely to offer premium returns for first movers in the market and that, as a New Zealand based investor, they would have a competitive advantage when forming consortia to bid projects that came up. Morrison & Co raised the PIP Fund to meet the prospective market in the expectation that, as the market matured, returns would subside and first movers would receive a capital gain as well as yield on their investments.
As a protective measure, PIP Fund was structured so that it could invest in Australia. It was unclear how long it would take the New Zealand government to bring its first PPPs to market. By the end of the first commitment period, about 50% of PIP Fund's investments were in Australia. PIP Fund II now invests exclusively in the active New Zealand PPP market without recourse to the Australian market.