Abu Dhabi's ADQ enters Australia with acquisition of 49% stake in Plenary Group

The investment will be used to boost Plenary's strategy across its global assets

Ahmed Al Shamsi, director of energy and utilities at ADQ, right, Paul Oppenheim, founder and director of Plenary Group, left, and David Lamming, chief executive of Plenary Group. Photo: ADQ
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Abu Dhabi-based investment and holding company ADQ will be acquiring a stake in Australia's Plenary Group, marking its entry into the Asia-Pacific's fifth-biggest economy and boosting its portfolio in the public infrastructure sector globally.

ADQ will buy a 49 per cent share in Melbourne-based Plenary for an undisclosed amount, which, in turn, will be used to accelerate the latter's expansion strategy across markets in Australia, the Middle East, Asia, the UK and Europe, ADQ said in a statement on Wednesday.

The acquisition of ADQ will include all shares currently owned by Canadian pension fund Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, which will continue to invest in Plenary’s Australian assets and remain the major shareholder in Plenary’s business unit in the Americas.

The partnership, which is still subject to regulatory approvals, is expected to complement ADQ's global strategy to “create long-term value and generate sustainable financial returns”, Hamad Al Hammadi, deputy group chief executive of ADQ, said.

“We are confident that our partnership in Plenary will unlock significant opportunities to contribute to the development of state-of-the-art infrastructure assets, boosting economic growth and social welfare in the target geographies.”

ADQ, which was established in 2018, has been growing its portfolio of companies, which span sectors including energy, utilities, food and agriculture, health care, pharmaceuticals, mobility and logistics.

Its investment in Plenary is expected to boost its presence in the global infrastructure sector, which is projected to hit $3.69 trillion by 2029, from an estimated $2.72 trillion in 2024, growing at a compound annual rate of 6.27 per cent, data from Mordor Intelligence shows.

This month, ADQ consolidated its assets in the life sciences sector to create a new holding company, Arcera, which aims to focus on improving the quality and longevity of human life.

In February, ADQ announced that it was leading a consortium that will invest $35 billion in major projects in Egypt, including acquiring the development rights for Ras El Hekma, a coastal region about 350km north-west of Cairo, for $24 billion.

It is also tapping into the high-growth technology sector: on Tuesday, it teamed up with the Oman Investment Authority to launch the $180 million technology-focused Jasoor Fund to support the technology momentum in the Middle East.

ADQ is also boosting investments globally. It has become an investor alongside the Bank of Montreal in the Canadian alternative asset management company Sagard.

“ADQ’s existing portfolio of infrastructure assets … will serve as a catalyst to leverage the significant potential of public-private partnership projects together with Plenary,” Mr Al Hammadi said.

Plenary, meanwhile, invests in, develops and manages public infrastructure, with more than $51 billion in assets under management across Australia, North America and the Middle East, according to its website.

The company made its first foray in the Middle East in 2022, securing the UAE’s first schools public-private partnership in May of that year, alongside Belgian group Besix.

“ADQ’s investment in Plenary will help accelerate our growth in Australia and internationally while the co-investment platform will allow us to scale our activities in the Middle East,” said John O’Rourke, chairman and founder of Plenary Group.

Updated: April 24, 2024, 9:29 AM