Fresh perspectives

Opinions and data can often tell a different story in the infrastructure asset class.

There’s nothing like cold, hard data to challenge preconceived notions.

In the infrastructure investment universe, for example, one encounters frequent reference to the difficulty of attracting debt finance in today’s market. Indeed, in this very column a couple of weeks ago, we mused on the lack of financing options in the UK amid apparently welcome signs that new debt funds might fill the gap.

But if lack of debt really is a problem in the UK, the global picture in this respect appears otherwise. In the ‘bubble’ period of July 2006 to July 2007, the top five-ranked lead banks arranged some $14.9 billion of debt financing between them in support of 256 infrastructure projects. Compare this with the $13.6 billion arranged by the top five banks during the ‘post-crisis’ period of 1 March 2009 to 1 March 2010 in some 244 projects. The difference between these figures might strike you as surprisingly small. 

One might also consider the frequently voiced opinion that last year was a difficult one for large projects to reach financial close – and ask whether this too was something of a misconception. In fact, four projects each worth more than $5 billion reached the finishing line. The fact that all four of these were in emerging markets (two in Brazil, one in India and one in China) highlights both the urgent need for large-scale infrastructure projects in these parts of the world and also these markets’ resilience in the face of the global downturn.

These are just a couple of outcomes gleaned from a quick scan of our new database, InfrastructureAssets, where you’ll find a wealth of information on the largest financial closes, the most popular sectors, the leading arrangers and participants and much more besides. Why not click here to take a test drive?

One more link for you to click on: the results from our inaugural Infrastructure Investor global awards for 2009. The awards saw over 35,000 votes cast from practitioners based in over 40 countries. Find out why a New York-based fund manager, a Paris-based fund manager and an international law firm – among many others – have much reason to celebrate.