Washington DC-headquartered advisory firm Astris Finance made an early bet on sustainability and mitigating climate change. That commitment is paying off for the firm as Latin American economies have doubled down on investment in the clean energy transition.
Astris, which wins the award for Financial Advisor of the Year, has worked on some of the most noteworthy energy transition and renewables projects in the region over the past couple of years.
Indeed, sustainability has been at the heart of the approach it has taken with sponsors of projects across a range of sectors, including notably, over the past year, the financing of the Via 40 toll road in Colombia, the winner of this year’s awards for Infrastructure Financing of the Year – Andes and Road Financing of the Year. That deal incorporates a strong environmental and social program as a central feature of the project.
The firm also helped structure the financing for Colombia’s Usme & Fontibón Electric-Bus Fleets Financing, which won the award for Social Infrastructure Financing of the Year. The project is estimated to result in CO₂ savings of approximately 43,000 tons per year, equivalent to planting approximately 3.9 million new trees.
Astris meanwhile advised on emblematic projects over the past year such as the construction of a solar power plant in Colombia where one of the partners is Ecopetrol, the state oil giant’s first renewable energy project. This initiative is expected to be a catalyst for the energy transition in Colombia, supporting regional sustainable growth, resulting in the annual reduction of over 24,000 tons of CO₂ emissions.
And in Brazil, Astris advised on Tline, a project intended to reduce energy transmission bottlenecks and which will increase overall system’s interconnection level. The expectation is that this will allow for more renewable sources, such as solar and wind, to be added into the grid, thereby further reducing local dependence on fossil fuel energy sources.
Tobey Collins, a Washington DC-based managed director at Astris, argues that the company is independent from larger financial groups, and that enables it to work with a variety of sponsors in Latin American infrastructure.
“We are agnostic,” she says. “As independent advisors, we can pick the right financing source for the right opportunity.”
Astris has teams spread across the US and Latin America, with a presence in Mexico City, Bogotá and São Paulo. It also prides itself of paying close attention to smaller economies such as Ecuador and including many in Central America.
“We keep ourselves active and busy across the entire region, not only in the larger economies but also in underserved markets which we believe continue to bring interesting opportunities to our clients,” says Romain Papassian, a managing director based in México City.
In addition to a number of greenfield projects, Astris advised on a number of M&A deals, which have popped up in the region as investors look for opportunities to buy bargain assets. Examples include the acquisition by Vinci Highways of a 55% stake at Entrevias, a Brazilian road concession company. The structuring of bonds and loans in sectors like logistics and transportation was also part of the company’s portfolio of activities in the past 15 months.
The firm draws its strength from its global purview – outside the Americas, Astris is primarily focused on energy transition sectors, notably in Europe.
Yet as Collins says: “Astris got its start in Latin America, which answers for around 50% of our business. We remain optimistic on the region.”
She adds: “People sometimes look at Latin America and think that things are too difficult, but we will continue to do what we have always done.”