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My top five for Berlin

We’ve got some heavyweight speakers and some great panels at next week’s record-breaking Global Summit, as more than 1,000 attendees descend on the Hilton Berlin.

Global Infrastructure Partners might have raised the biggest unlisted fund in the industry at $15.8 billion; but after 11 years, our newly rebranded Global Summit has reached its own very special milestone: we’ve crossed the 1,000 barrier, up from 945 attendees last year.

From 20-23 March, these 1,000-plus participants from all over the world will congregate at the Hilton Berlin to network and discuss the future of the asset class, including some 250 institutional investors representing north of $500 billion of infrastructure allocations (someone please get them insured).

If you’ve never been to Berlin, it’s hard to convey the sheer buzz of the event, but the videos we shot on the ground last year are a good place to start. As we gear up for the most important event of the infrastructure season, here are the five moments I am looking forward to the most next week:

1. Vicente Fox (Emerging Markets Forum)

I had the chance to interview Mexico’s outspoken former President not that long ago and I can safely say you are in for a treat. A key figure in Mexico’s history, Vicente Fox ended 71 years of uninterrupted rule by the country’s Institutional Revolutionary Party when he came to power in 2000. A firm believer in the current administration’s energy reforms, Fox argued the stage is set for Mexico to end decades of low growth. But there are weighty obstacles to overcome, including the cartels, corruption and, of course, US President Donald Trump’s looming trade war (not to mention that infamous wall…). 

2. Adebayo Ogunlesi (Day 1) 

A fireside chat with the man responsible for the industry’s largest-ever fund? Yes, please. Adebayo Ogunlesi and the firm he leads – Global Infrastructure Partners – need no introduction. But it will be exciting to hear from the GIP chairman (now a member of President Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum) on the future of the asset class and what GIP plans to do with its record third fund. More importantly, we’re keen on learning what you’d like to ask ‘Bayo’, so don’t forget to submit your questions.

3. Robin Chase (Day 1)

We joked last year that the ghost of Airbnb seemed to be haunting the Hilton’s corridors, as nervous attendees tried to spot the kind of disruption that might seriously affect the long-term assets they manage. So this year, we decided to invite one of the disruptors: Robin Chase, co-founder and former chief executive of Zipcar, the world’s largest car-sharing company, will be at the event to tell you how your worst fears will come true. Kidding aside, Chase will touch on driverless cars, communal usage of vehicles and other topics in a keynote address which any serious transport investor will want to be in the room to hear.

4. Yuval Noah Harari (Day 2)

Israeli historian and lecturer Yuval Noah Harari is the best-selling author of President Obama favourite Sapiens, which, as the Guardian put it, “laid out the last 75,000 years of human history to remind us that there is nothing special or essential about who we are”. Harari is back with new book Homo Deus (the Guardian’s cheerful summary: “how data will destroy human freedom”) and he will be delivering the day two keynote address on – you guessed it – what big data means for infrastructure. Afterwards, Harari will also be signing copies of Homo Deus, so don’t miss your chance.

5. The LP breakfast (Day 2)

Why? Because I can’t be in the room, that’s why. Our customary LP breakfast is a closed-door session for “qualifying investors” only. Expect some of the industry’s top powerbrokers to attend the one-hour session, as they discuss how they are investing in the asset class, key trends, managers, and, of course, complain about fees.

See you in Berlin!

Write to the author at bruno.a@peimedia.com