US insurer Ullico sets up infrastructure platform

Bechtel investment professionals Jeff Murphy and Sonia Axter have been brought in co-ordinate the company’s infrastructure activities.

Ullico, the Washington DC-based insurance group, has announced the formation of a dedicated infrastructure investment operation. The privately held financial and risk solutions provider, which already has an in-house real estate investment business, will assist with the investment, maintenance and refurbishment of infrastructure assets in the US.
To run the division, Ullico has hired investment professionals Jeff Murphy and Sonia Axter, who have worked together in a number of roles previously.

Prior to joining Ullico, they were senior infrastructure investment personnel at Bechtel Enterprises, the infrastructure finance, development, and ownership arm of Bechtel Group. They were also members of Deutsche Bank's alternative investment group responsible for investing private capital in infrastructure assets in North America.

Commenting on the firm’s strategy, Ullico president Ed Smith told Reuters: “Most of the US infrastructure system including roads, bridges, railways, water systems is between 50 and 100 years old. In some cases even older. More than ever, cash strapped communities are forced to defer maintenance and capacity enhancement, increasingly, with tragic results. Investment in these assets will not only help keep America's infrastructure safe but will also help to create jobs and keep America competitive in the global economy.”

It is estimated that over the next five years, $2.2 trillion will be needed to address the most serious deficiencies in the US infrastructure network.

The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that one in four bridges in the US are structurally unsound or unuseable, while poor roads are a factor in nearly one-third of all traffic fatalities, according to Reuters. Meanwhile seven billion gallons of clean water is lost through leaking pipes every day.

Ullico, which has a $5.3billion in assets under management, funded $1.2 billion of new construction in 2008.