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Westpac Sells Infrastructure Firm Hastings

After sale talks fell apart with another company in August, the Australian bank has found a buyer.

Westpac Banking Corp. has agreed to sell Hastings, an infrastructure manager overseeing A$12.6 billion ($9.6 billion) of assets, to Northill Capital.

Northill is a privately held asset management firm backed by the billionaire Bertarelli family, which plans to provide “significant co-investment capital to enhance alignment with investors,” according to a joint statement Friday. While the firms didn’t disclose a purchase price, The Financial Times reported that Northill paid about $123 million.

Spokespeople for Northhill and Westpac didn’t immediately return emails seeking comment.

Sydney-based Westpac had earlier entered exclusive negotiations with another Australian firm, Charter Hall Group, according to a July statement from the seller. But less than a month later, Westpac announced that the talks ended without a deal, and the company would “continue to assess sale options.”

Northill said it sees the Hastings purchase as “a long-term partnership, supporting the continued development of Hastings as an independent asset management business.” The deal still requires regulatory approval and due diligence.

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Hastings lost a major client at the end of August, when stakeholders in The Infrastructure Fund, known as TIF, voted to remove the firm as its manager.

The $1.4 billion TIF is funded by Australian retirement systems, insurers, family offices and other institutional investors. Hastings ran its portfolio, which included stakes in airports in Perth and Cairns, as well as an Adelaide hospital and state highway, according to the firm’s website, which still features a page on TIF.

At the end of August, TIF’s trustee, Gardior, made an announcement about the decision to remove Hastings as the fund’s portfolio manager. Gardior Chairman Bob Lette said that after an extensive review “the best way to lower costs, increase returns and improve alignment between TIF management and unitholders was to redesign and renegotiate our asset management services.”

In response to the firing, Hastings’ then-CEO Andrew Day said in an August company statement that the firm “respects the decision of TIF unitholders” to change managers. “We are proud of our strong track record as manager of TIF over the past 17 years” with an average of 12.8 percent return a year after fees, Day said.

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