Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has successfully supported KKR Asia Pacific Infrastructure Fund in its investment in New Zealand’s leading bus transportation company Ritchies Transport Holdings Limited.

The private equity-backed acquisition of the family owned business was assisted by a NZ$265m syndicated loan facility, with CBA serving as joint mandated lead arranger, underwriter and bookrunner (“MLAUB”). The transaction was first announced in August 2021 and successfully closed in March 2022.

CBA’s Head of Private Equity Financing Group, Gautam Rao, said the new ownership structure would enable Ritchies Transport to further develop its operational platform as the business works in partnership with the New Zealand government to deliver safe, reliable and sustainable public transport services.

Ritchies Transport is one of the market leaders in New Zealand transportation with an 89-year history. New ownership and capital facilities will enable the company to develop its operations and grow the business.

“We are pleased that our strong industry knowledge, capital markets expertise and Trans-Tasman footprint have helped to secure a great outcome for KKR Asia Pacific Infrastructure Fund and an exciting new chapter for Ritchies Transport,” Mr Rao said.

CBA has strengthened its private equity and leveraged finance capabilities following the appointment of Mr Rao in June 2021, who was previously Head of Leveraged Capital Markets at Deutsche Bank. The bank has built a 12-strong Private Equity Financing Group which is purely focused on private equity financing to support both large and mid-market private equity clients.

“It's one private equity financing team within the bank that faces all private equity clients. We think that is important so clients can expect consistent delivery of service, products and risk appetite.  

“We’ve also extended our product offering and underwriting capabilities to include unitranche and Aussie dollar term loan B structures. This is a recent development and a response to increasing private equity client demands for institutional investor-style structures,” Mr Rao said.

CBA’s Private Equity Financing Group has quickly established a successful track record executing on this broader product suite, having supported during the past 12 months Partners Group’s refinancing of Guardian Early Learning Group and KKR’s investment in Colonial First State.