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The bright lights emerging in European infrastructure


Charles Dupont

Charles Dupont

President, Schroder aida

Schroders

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Infrastructure is the backbone of economies around the world. Could we imagine a modern society without roads, ports, airports, electricity, water and gas networks? Numerous studies have been able to show the correlation between the performance of an economy and the quality of its infrastructure.

As the world sinks into crisis post Covid-19, we believe boosting economies by investing in transport, energy and the environment makes perfect sense. And there is no shortage of opportunities in Europe.

A number of studies have demonstrated that Europe, and France in particular, have long neglected the maintenance of strategic infrastructure, at times with tragic outcomes.

France: infrastructure scores versus the world

 

France score

(max 100)

Global ranking

(141 economies worldwide)

Transport infrastructure

82.6

10

Road connectivity

96.6

6

Quality of road infrastructure

73.9

18

Railroad density  km/1.0km2

100

17

Efficiency of train services

65.9

15

Airport connectivity

95.8

13

Efficiency of air transport services

74.9

24

Seaport/shipping connectivity

84

12

Efficiency of seaport services

69.4

20

Utility  infrastructures

96.9

20

Access to electricity (% of the population)

100

2

Electricity supply quality (% of output)

96.7

43

Exposure to safe drinking water (% population)

100

22

Reliability of water supply

90.9

20

Source : The Global Competitiveness Report 2019, Global Economic Forum.

Infrastructure also reflects the changes in our society. Current events and politics provide us with ever more examples of their strategic nature in tomorrow's world. How do we deliver energy transition against climate change? The answer lies in the construction of sustainable energies; wind power, especially offshore wind power, as well as solar farms, but also the modernization of our electricity grids and the construction of gas infrastructures capable of managing the intermittency of renewable energies. It is also in the installation of smart meters to make users more responsible for their consumption.

The period of lockdown we have just gone through has also shown our dependence on digital infrastructures, fibre networks and relay antennas, and highlighted the "digital deserts". Geopolitical tensions have demonstrated the importance of data centre locations. Locating these centres closer to users could preserve digital security.

Finally, in the very short term, the health crisis may also lead us to rapidly strengthen the equity capital of infrastructure companies, particularly in the transport sector, which, due to a lack of users, have suffered losses in recent months and thus seen their equity capital melt away.

Emergency measures, guaranteed loans and deferred charges, have provided them with the liquidity they need to survive and get through the crisis, but at the same time have increased their debt. Many of them will have to undertake a rapid capital increase to maintain their solvency at an acceptable level. These are all opportunities for infrastructure funds to support economies, support strategic companies and build the world of tomorrow.

The opinions contained herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the house view. This document is intended to be for information purposes only. The material is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any financial instrument. The material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, accounting, legal or tax advice, or investment recommendations. Information herein is believed to be reliable but Cazenove Capital does not warrant its completeness or accuracy. No responsibility can be accepted for errors of fact or opinion. This does not exclude or restrict any duty or liability that Cazenove Capital has to its customers under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (as amended from time to time) or any other regulatory system. Cazenove Capital is part of the Schroder Group and a trading name of Schroder & Co. Registered Office at 1 London Wall Place, London EC2Y 5AU. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. For your security, communications may be taped and monitored. 

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