Infrastructure Index: Europe bounces back
Creating an attractive environment for investors in infrastructure is no easy task. Politics and policy can make or break private participation and the flow of investment. Something that has never been clearer than in this year’s CMS Infrastructure Index, which ranks 40 jurisdictions in order of infrastructure investment attractiveness.
The Netherlands has secured top spot in this year’s Index, despite the uncertainty of having 208 days with no government earlier in the year. A vigorous economy, a transparent and efficient procurement process, together with a track record of delivery of its multi-billion-Euro pipeline of road, water and social infrastructure PPPs have created an attractive, highly competitive environment for investors.
It is a different story for the UK. Ranked fourth after The Netherlands, Canada and Germany, Brexit and political uncertainty is having a considerable impact on the pipeline of greenfield projects. Definitions of infrastructure are evolving, with asset types including digital infrastructure and energy smart meters replacing traditional PFI schemes. With this comes a need to adapt and maintain the UK’s strong regulatory reputation. Investors still consider the UK to be an attractive market with no sign of a reduction in investor demand for operational stakes in transport, energy and social infrastructure projects.
If a new direction is required, transparency and the creation of a more varied pipeline to complement the politically appealing mega-projects will be key. Governments have a large part to play. Wim Blaasse of Dutch Infrastructure Fund comments in the report on the success of the Netherlands: “The Dutch government has a “consistent policy when it comes to PPPs, as all projects which reach a certain criterion are simply procured as PPPs. It provides certainty, which in turn creates a large pipeline, which means companies can build up large teams in the country”.
CEE is particularly exciting as their economies experience a significant expansion due to the favourable environment for foreign investment and EU financing.
At 13th, the Czech Republic ranks highest of the CEE countries. Political stability, a strong economy and government support for infrastructure present many opportunities for private investment. PPPs are becoming increasingly common across CEE, with Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria all having successfully completed projects. Chinese capital is also reaching the region.
The Index presents a very positive outlook for Europe. With a mixture of mature and developing infrastructure markets, there are significant opportunities for investors across the full range of asset classes.
We would like to thank our interviewees for giving up their valuable time to share and contribute their views on the infrastructure sector in their respective markets.