A global transformation in infrastructure ownership
The last decade has seen a transformation in the ownership of the world’s economic infrastructure – with much now resting in the hands of specialist private investors who have inherited it through acquisitions from governments, major corporates and take-private transactions.
This transformation has been driven by an influx of capital seeking long-term, stable returns. More than US$200bn has been raised by specialist funds since 2006, with at least the same again allocated by pension funds and other direct investors.
Combined with a strong supply of assets, enhanced by the post-crisis need for governments and major corporates to reduce debt and focus expenditure, the impact has been pronounced, with US$1.7 trillion being invested into infrastructure assets globally since 2010. In the UK alone, some 56% of water assets, all of the UK’s major airports, most ports and all passenger rail rolling stock now sit within specialist infrastructure investor vehicles.
Understandably, questions have been raised around the financial and performance impacts this has had on infrastructure spending and performance, on the provenance and extraction of funds, and on the security of essential services within private investors’ hands.