Brookfield Launches $400m Columbian Infrastructure Fund

TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management said on Wednesday that it was setting up a $400 million fund to invest in Colombian infrastructure, joining a wave of foreign investors entering the Andean nation.

Toronto-based Brookfield (BAMa.TO), with a global portfolio worth more than $80 billion, said the first closing of the fund raised $320 million, making the largest Colombian private equity and infrastructure fund ever assembled.

Investors include Colombian institutional investors and Brookfield, with Brookfield committing up to 30 percent of the total.

“This initiative is an important step in our plan to expand our presence in Colombia and occurs at a time of attractive investment opportunities in the Colombian market,” said Fernando Garcia-Rossel, Brookfield’s head of Andean region infrastructure.

International companies are investing increasingly in Latin America after global growth coupled with sound fiscal policy brought economic stability to the region.

As the global financial crisis toppled banks in the world’s largest economies, banking sectors in many South America countries withstood the storm.

Brookfield already has $8 billion invested in Latin America, with assets in Chile, Peru and Brazil in areas ranging from ports to toll roads and water treatment plants.

“We have been monitoring a number of attractive targets in Colombia for the past year or so,” a company source told Reuters.

Investment activity accelerated in Colombia since the election of President Alvaro Uribe in 2002. He has helped stabilize the country after years of struggle against the illicit drug traffickers and leftist guerrillas.

Other Canadian companies are also actively invested in Latin America.

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP), one of Canada’s largest investors, controls several water companies in Chile via its Inversiones Southwater investment unit. Some of those companies include Essbio, Esval, Nuevosur and Aguas del Valle.

Inversiones Southwater on Wednesday placed the equivalent of $273 million worth of bonds in the Chilean domestic market in a move to refinance its debt. ($1=$1.08 Canadian) (Reporting by Pav Jordan; Editing by Frank McGurty)