Global infrastructure investment: The role of private capital in the delivery of essential assets and services

Over the last decade there has been a transformation in the ownership of the world’s economic infrastructure. The combination of a strong supply of assets and the need for governments and companies around the world to reduce debt has led to $1.7 trillion being invested into infrastructure assets globally.[1]

This transformation has been driven by an influx of capital and investors seeking long term, stable returns. More than $200bn has been raised by specialist funds since 2006,[1] with at least the same again allocated by pension funds and other direct investors. Much of the world’s infrastructure is now in the hands of specialist private investors. 

Impact of private investment in infrastructure

PwC Partner, Colin Smith and CEO of GIIA, Andy Rose, discuss the role and impact of private investment in infrastructure.

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Global Infrastructure Investment

We explore the role of private capital in the delivery of essential assets and services.

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Evidence of recent performance suggests that many investors appreciate the needs and public status of their assets and are responsible, committed long term stewards. However this significant change has brought its benefits and challenges to these infrastructure assets under management. 

This report, produced by PwC in conjunction with the Global Infrastructure Investors Association (GIIA), draws from evidence built over the last decade of global infrastructure investments. We have combined research, analysis and a series of case studies based on investments made by GIIA members.  

In compiling this report, a number of consistent themes have emerged around the investment, management, and governance of major infrastructure assets held by private sector investors.

 

 

Themes

Long term custodians not short term owners

The investors we have interviewed as part of this report have consistently referred to their roles as custodians of infrastructure assets, rather than business owners. Generally the infrastructure investor community brings a long term mindset towards asset ownership. They are willing to invest in assets throughout the economic cycle and have a desire to engage with regulators to ensure public needs are being properly met. Of the capital raised by infrastructure funds since 2006, 48% has been by vehicles with a maturity of over 10 years [1]. Capital investment decisions are typically weighted towards asset performance and long term value creation, rather than short term gain.

Committed asset management with a drive to improve performance

A consistent theme emerging from the research is investors’ desires to improve their assets, commonly through exceeding regulator-set performance targets, improving customer experiences and through improving efficiency.  Objective analysis has shown performance improvements across privately invested infrastructure, and this has been evidenced strongly in our case studies. However by their very nature, infrastructure assets require a lot of investment and ongoing expenditure to keep them operating well.We consider it important for the industry that its investors continue to support active asset management. 

Venturing into greenfield

Appetite for private investment in infrastructure has never been stronger and there is a recognised need for funding of new greenfield infrastructure. However, the risks and challenges of investing in greenfield construction projects mean that such projects are typically beyond the remit of many institutional investors. To bridge the global infrastructure gap, it will be incumbent on both the industry and governments to devise, sponsor and champion innovative structures to enable low cost capital to be better deployed in meeting the world’s infrastructure needs.

Transparent governance

Questions have been raised around whether investors’ motivations and structures are in the public interest. This point has been articulated by many stakeholders highlighting that, given the monopolistic nature of many regulated companies, the highest standards of governance is required. We consider it important that global infrastructure investors continue to recognise there is valid public interest in their investments. We believe that in order to further build confidence in the sector, it is important investors commit to good governance and robust ownership principles.

Reference:

[1] InfraDeals 

Contact us

Colin Smith
Infrastructure - UK Deals Leader, PwC UK
Tel: +44 20 780 49991
Email

David Pedler
Senior Manager, PwC UK
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7212 5420
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