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Outlook 2015: Benchmarking progress

Brussel’s ambitions to revive the region’s project pipeline and the industry’s efforts to build a robust benchmark will be on the radar of many investors this year, argues Meridiam’s Thierry Déau.

While the €315 billion investment plan recently announced by the European Commission is based on laudable intentions, it remains to be seen how its implementation will happen this year.

Or at least that is the view of Thierry Déau, chairman and chief executive of Paris-based fund manager Meridiam. “For lack of immediate projects I hope the plan will provide the momentum needed to revive Europe’s project pipeline. If we are to further build the asset class we need something to re-energise infrastructure policies and avoid the stop-and-go nature of procurement across European countries.”

More than questions about what it is trying to achieve, remaining doubts about the Juncker plan – which takes its name from the Commission’s recently appointed President – revolve around its implementation. “It needs to explain how it can help build a pipeline either by boosting the liquidity available or help states put together projects. It’s more about being clever in procuring and structuring these than finding the money,” Déau says.

Another key theme, he reckons, will be the industry’s efforts to deliver a viable performance benchmark – something it has lacked until now but which has recently been put in focus by the Long-Term Infrastructure Investors Association (LTIIA), an industry body Meridiam was instrumental in establishing last year.

“A solid benchmark will help make the asset class credible with regulators and allow for investors to enter a meaningful dialogue with them. This also can be a major factor in cementing infrastructure’s status as a distinct asset class.”

With the benchmark’s academic foundations now close to being laid out, Déau thinks much of the remaining work will be about collecting the data needed to make it a usable tool.