Invest in global infrastructure to hedge and help build a greener future


Invest in global infrastructure to hedge and help build a greener future

Invest in global infrastructure to hedge and help build a greener future

Infrastructure has the potential to provide inflation protection, income and resilience in uncertain times.

Infrastructure—utilities, telecom systems and other essentials of modern society—is poised at the edge of transformational change, and you can be a part of it.

Emerging economies need a range of basic services, especially in fast-growing cities. Developed economies’ aging essential infrastructure, such as bridges and water utilities, need upgrades. The move toward a greener global energy future, and a more advanced and digitally connected society, needs to be built.

The capital that will be needed far surpasses governments’ capacities. Take power: Experts predict that by 2050, cities will add, on average, over two million miles of power lines and lay more than four million miles of water and sewage pipes. This is just one example of why we see the record pace of growth in the private infrastructure market accelerating further.

Infrastructure also has the potential to deliver strong investment returns. One reason is that infrastructure isn’t optional, it’s essential. We all need it all the time (when the economy is thriving and when it’s not). Moreover, returns generally don’t move the same way as stock or bond returns do, so (like other real assets) infrastructure is an uncorrelated diversifier. And since regulators peg utility rates to cost-of-living increases, there’s an embedded inflation hedge.

Meaningful inflation protection, portfolio diversification, the potential for consistent cash flow and historical outperformance in volatile times are opportunities not easily found elsewhere.

Let’s explore why we are excited about infrastructure investing.

1. Globally, infrastructure requires a massive influx of capital

As the world’s population swells by an expected two billion people by 2050, urban populations everywhere will need to expand essential services such as clean water, electricity, fiberoptic lines and transportation. We expect to see investments in digital infrastructure grow steadily, creating strong demand for networks and data centres.

The opportunity is not just in emerging markets: In the United States, for example, 27% of households do not have adequate, or any, internet access—either because it is unaffordable or unavailable. In many places, the shift from copper to fibre optic cable still needs to extend to the “last mile”—homes, offices and stores.

In the United States, 70% of electrical systems are well into the second half of their lifespans. As for water: A U.S. water main breaks every two minutes, causing the loss of about six billion gallons of treated water every day. The public sector alone can’t afford to fix it.

2. Infrastructure is historically resilient when growth slows and less volatile than stocks and bonds

It’s a compelling case, we think: Infrastructure has offered relative stability, especially in 2022, when global stocks lost 17.7% and bonds fell 11.2%. It also traditionally offers consistent income and, at times, a substantial return uplift for those able to forego liquidity. Those highly attractive qualities are drawing in private capital, and we expect valuations for infrastructure assets to find support from continued fundraising inflows.

Whether this year brings a recession, slower economic growth, or if central banks continue rate hikes to tame inflation, we expect widespread dislocations to continue.

Under inflationary conditions, utilities can pass through cost increases to customers in various ways. As a result, you may want to look for this type of infrastructure income: contracted, regulated and inflation-indexed.

And because core infrastructure historically performs well throughout the economic cycle’s ups and downs, its resilience can mute economic and market shocks to portfolios, preserving the consistency of the cash-flow yield that is being generated by those “essential” assets.

3. The urgent, costly energy transition to decarbonization drives many investment opportunities

Replacing fossil fuels with renewables is a priority for many governments, asset owners and global organizations. While many industries (transit, automotive, manufacturing) must decarbonize, power generation is key and may cost more than headlines suggest.

For economies to achieve their net-zero commitments by 2030, wind power capacity, solar generation and especially battery storage capacity will have to rise exponentially. Forecasts indicate that $750 billion per year is needed, creating a deep and broad private market opportunity set: from venture capital investing in new, breakthrough technologies to later-stage buyouts focused on more established and profitable businesses across all aspects of infrastructure.

4. Countries want domestic energy security

The war in Ukraine revealed Europe’s dependence on Russian gas, reminding the world that diversifying where you get your power can be a matter of geopolitical security. European economies will need significant investment to that end.

In our view, the risk/return outlook is positive, since many government policies today encourage domestic energy development, both new and built on existing (“brownfield”) sites. Moreover, for energy security and affordability, fossil-fuel-based infrastructure will also likely be part of the global energy mix for decades. That, too, opens investment opportunities—to increase efficiency and lighten old assets’ carbon footprints.

We can help

Whether you’re focused on income, financing global decarbonisation or another aspect of infrastructure investing, please reach out to your Bank of Advisories team to further explore whether this asset class could be an appropriate part of achieving your long-term financial plans.


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