Growing sectors such as digital infrastructure could present opportunities, but the outlook for traditional PPPs is mixed
In October, four infrastructure investing veterans sat down together to discuss the best ways to invest in electric vehicles infrastructure. Various options were tabled, from financing charging points owned by fleet lessors and utilities, through to owning lower capacity charging points in car parks and town centres. But there was little consensus among the investors, who were speaking at a conference organised by Inframation in Madrid, on the best route forward.
Such lack of certainty is reflected in the relatively low investment into the sector in 2019, even if Meridiam, which completed a couple of EV deals in 2019, is an exception.
Nevertheless, most agree that climate change-related technology will be a big investment opportunity over the next 12 months. Thierry Deau, Meridiam’s CEO, says that while Europe’s PPP sector is largely in the doldrums, investors should look at green opportunities. “One key element is the new green deal from the European Commission, which will essentially promote investment through InvestEU, with a strong focus on climate,” says Deau. “Investors should therefore embrace new sectors like climate change.” InvestEU, backed by the European Commission, the EIB and the private sector, is aimed at investing at least EUR 650bn in more than 1,000 infrastructure projects.
But despite such support, there is little evidence of a splurge of EV charging deals in 2020. It is more likely greenfield investors will focus in 2020 on digital infrastructure.
Mark Bradshaw, head of infrastructure projects, Europe & Americas at Macquarie Capital, says: “We see increasing demand for investment in digital infrastructure. As such, we will increase our focus on fibre and data centre investments – building on our recent projects such as Voneus and the creation of Spain’s first independent broadband wholesaler. We also expect to see a lot of secondary market trading and new projects coming in the demand risk and digital sector.”