Project finance? Far from boring

Infrastructure Investor’s eye was caught by a recent contribution to Joris Luyendijk’s ‘Banking Blog’ in the UK’s Guardian newspaper. As part of a series in which financial sector employees are invited to talk about their working lives, there appeared a staunch defence of the joys of lending to infrastructure projects by an unnamed project finance manager.

“As project or structured finance people, we are seen as boring by investment bankers (the traders and those in mergers and acquisitions),” says the contributor, clearly aghast. “But traders sit in their glass buildings all day shouting into their phones and staring at a screen, turning one number into another. I help build schools, toll roads, bridges, oil rigs and power plants in faraway places. I travel all over Europe, to Russia, Asia and Saudi Arabia, on my own, to inaugurate a gas plant, open a solar park or inspect an oil refinery. Now, who has the boring job?”

In a lengthy monologue, our project finance apologist says he/she hates investment banking. He/she even goes on to accuse derivatives traders of losing their tempers to such a degree that “you’ll find them screaming at the sandwich lady in the canteen”.

Now, as Infrastructure Investor, you will of course find us in full agreement with these views (although we might distance ourselves a little from the sandwich lady-related allegation). Sadly, in the comment section underneath the blog, is evidence that you’ll never win over all the cynics. “You weren't involved with PFI were you?” asks someone describing themselves as “richkid”. “I’m sure that was fulfilling for someone but screwed the rest of us over big time.”