Opening remarks and market overview
Global Outlook: Infrastructure state of play
The industry rebounded last year, with deal volume rising by almost 27% to USD923.7 billion from USD727.5 billion in 2020. Moreover, according to Infralogic data, the total annual fund capital raised at final close set a new high mark of USD109.23 billion in 2021. Buoyed by large pools of capital and a stream of mega funds looking to put dry powder to work, investors are focusing on rising valuations, the outlook for sectors that were core to portfolios before the pandemic, new sectors that harness the mega trends of decarbonisation and digitalisation, and proven and emerging geographies which offer growth for a wider pool of investors in the infrastructure space. Against a backdrop of macro geo-political issues, our panel of global investors will review the current state of the market.
- What do macro-political and economic issues mean for infrastructure investors?
- Which sectors and geographies are global investors betting on?
- Is Asia gaining momentum as an investment destination?
- Decarbonisation and digitalisation – how has asset preference shifted after the pandemic and why?
Australia: Staying on track
Deal activity has returned over the last 12 months, with headline acquisition from a range of investors in the transport, energy, telecom, and healthcare sectors, as well as a flurry of deals straddling infrastructure and private equity that can capture growth if management teams have the value creation skills needed to improve operations. However, valuations are heating up and in an inflationary environment with rising interest rates on the horizon, the defensive nature of assets and downside protection will be key. It will also be interesting to see the extent of state governments’ plans for capital recycling and new projects. A panel of experts will share their views at this critical time.
- How is the need for value creation being managed with assets that require a hands-on operational approach?
- How will rising interest rates and inflation effect different infrastructure assets?
- How is the investor landscape evolving in terms of fund types and managers operating in Australia?
- What sectors are gaining the most traction – energy, digital, healthcare, tech?
- What projects are the government planning?
Renewables: The roadmap to energy transition
Barely a day passes without seeing energy transition in the headlines, as the debate on how and when it should take place heats up, with traditional infrastructure investors in the space being joined by high-profile activists looking to deliver a clean energy future. Investment levels in the renewable energy space are high, but issues relating to storage, firming capacity, grid access, regulation, and policy remain unresolved. Interest around new renewable sources and the role of gas in the transition is gaining momentum, and for those not afraid to invest in businesses that have an emissions profile, decarbonising coal-related infrastructure is a viable option. In this session a panel of renewable energy investors will tackle a range of tough questions.
- Which part of the renewable sector are investors bidding on to deliver consistent returns?
- What is the outlook for storage technologies and grid reliability for renewables?
- How do navigate the issues when transitioning a coal plant, it to a clean energy source?
- What is the role of activist investors in speeding up the transition to cleaner and greener energy sources?
Hard talk: ESG and the journey to net-zero
ESG policies and practices are front of mind for investors as they strive to enhance their ESG effort and reporting with an overall aim to create greener outcomes and rollout a robust ESG program to improve their current investments and transition to net zero. From implementing ESG and achieving buy-in from all stakeholders to investing in sustainable industries such as social infrastructure and food tech, understanding the interim steps and pathways is critical and involves a balanced approach to staying firmly focused on the end goal while utilising good ESG practices to build better, more profitable businesses. In this session, a panel of experts will evaluate different approaches and strategies to developing a winning ESG initiative across an infrastructure portfolio over the long-term.
- How do you effectively manage data and technology for ESG integration and reporting?
- Which emerging sectors support the net-zero strategy and how do you evaluate your current emissions?
- What are the disclosure and reporting requirements and how do you minimize greenwashing?
- What questions are LPs are asking their GPs in 2022 and how has the conversation evolved?
- How can you access sustainability loans and what is required?
The rise of digital infrastructure
Broadband fibre networks and data centres have been prominent investments in the digital space and, last year, Australasia’s telecommunications carriers finally began to split off their vertically integrated infrastructure, with similar deals ahead for this year. Digital disruption will impact most if not all industries, and although it may not fit perfectly into the infrastructure bucket, forward-thinking investors willing to roll up their sleeves are looking at a range of present and emerging opportunities, from smart meters to electric vehicles, to harness the potential of this growing sector. In this discussion a panel of industry experts will review the opportunities.
- Where are the new areas of digital beyond fibre, towers, and data centres?
- What trends are we seeing in valuations across digital infrastructure assets and why?
- What expertise is required from fund managers investing in digital assets?
- What thesis can you use to identify disruption early and subsequent investments?
LP spotlight: Planning for the future
As the players and product offerings in the infrastructure space expand, so too have LPs’ strategies, as they search for the right level of risk across their portfolios by harnessing growth sectors and evaluating their current asset exposure post-pandemic. At the same time, internally, many LPs have been busy strengthening their GP relationships to access co-investment, as well as developing their team and opening new offices in key locations to capture global opportunities. However, the mergers of super funds are likely to push up the minimum ticket size and increase mandates, while pressure on ESG and greener and cleaner investing and benchmarking requirements are all likely to impact how and where LPs can invest. In this session a panel of seasoned investors will share their views on the future.
- How do investors rate their appetite for growth/core+ strategies versus core and supercore?
- How do you balance your portfolio in a post-pandemic environment?
- How do you get the best from your GP relationships – separate and managed accounts, co-investments?
- How are LPs managing ESG and the drive to net-zero across their portfolios?
- How do you navigate the benchmarking requirements for superannuation funds?
Close of conference
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