Back on track

Slow and steady wins the race. After a year that saw Western Europe drop down the rankings in terms of deal activity, data freshly compiled by Infrastructure Investor Research & Analytics shows the region gathering momentum throughout 2013 to eventually steal the crown from Asia-Pacific.

Buoyed by a number of large re-financings, such as that of Germany’s OGE and the UK’s Perenco, both over $2.5 billion – as well as top-ranking projects including Italy’s Brebemi and the UK’s Thameslink Rolling Stock – Western Europe posted 200 deals worth more than $68 billion last year. Middle East closely followed, with nearly $66 billion, though Asia-Pacific came second for number of deals (with 120 completed).

Europe’s impressive recovery also proved to be a selective one, however. The UK, at almost $26 billion, topped the country league, but Italy and Germany, with $9.7 billion and $7.3 billion respectively, came eighth and tenth. The ranking was otherwise dominated by the US ($24.7 billion), Australia ($20.6 billion) and Saudi Arabia ($17.5 billion).

Last year also saw transport deals gather pace, yet still trailing behind the energy sector. The winning sector of 2013 generated eight out of the 10 largest transactions of the year, topped by the $9 billion Nghi Son Refinery Project in Vietnam. Energy posted $114 billion worth of deals last year, way ahead of transport’s $70 billion. Renewables, with 240 transactions, also performed strongly.

Meanwhile, Japanese banks maintained their dominance as lead arrangers: Mitsubishi UFJ and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp, with deal book values of over $6 billion each, remained far ahead of their challengers. Yet competition in their wake was fierce, with HSBC ($3.5 billion), Commonwealth Bank of Australia ($3.4 billion) and Unicredit ($3.3 billion) all vying for the third step of the podium.

Figures for the last quarter, released alongside the yearly tables, give us a hint of what might be in store for 2014: a healthy pipeline in Europe (which came first in Q4 2013) and sustained acceleration in the transport sector (which overtook energy for the period). The starting gun has been fired.