Selecting Reference Indices for the Infrastructure Asset Class

This position paper examines the results of a large survey of infrastructure investors and their preferences for the segmentation of the infrastructure asset class. Using those results, coupled with modern finance theory about what should matter to investors, this paper sets out a taxonomy of unlisted infrastructure investment indices and benchmarks that can give structure the global unlisted infrastructure asset class.

This taxonomy will now be used to compute all EDHECinfra indices, sub-indices and custom benchmarks.

Research for Institutional Money Management: Infrastructure Benchmarking

Contents:
– Access to Infrastructure Investment and #fakeInfra
– Is Listed Infrastructure an Asset Class?
– Private Infrastructure Equity Investment Benchmarks
– Private Infrastructure Debt Benchmarks
– The Valuation of Private Assets
– How to Derive Equity and Debt Index Results

This issue is an Infrastructure Benchmarking Special.

We first address the rise of #fakeInfra and how it has been an obstacle to the development of real infrastructure investment. There is no such thing as a “listed infrastructure asset class.” It is presented to investors as an opportunity to gain exposure to something new or rare, but has really always been available — that is, it is already “spanned” by existing capital market and other instruments.

2017 EDHECinfra Research Insights

Contents:
– Towards better infrastructure investment products?
– Looking for a listed infrastructure asset class
– Is private infrastructure different?
– Tracking credit metrics in private infrastructure debt
– Data collection for infrastructure investment benchmarking

In this Special Issue of EDHECinfra Research Insights We present the result of the first in-depth survey of institutional investors’ perceptions and expectations of infrastructure investment. Almost two thirds of surveyed institutions declared that they wanted to increase their current holdings of infrastructure investments.

The survey reveals some important evolutions and also important differences of perspectives, amongst investors and also between asset owners and managers. One of the key findings is that investors have no bench- marks and do not trust reported valuations.In a short article, we then look at whether an asset class of listed infrastructure exists. We do not manage to find listed proxies for infrastructure assets. We conclude that what is typically referred to as listed infrastructure is not an asset class or a unique combination of market factors. It cannot be persistently distinguished from existing exposures in investors’ portfolios. Expecting the emergence of a new or unique “infrastructure asset class” by focusing on public equities selected on the basis of industrial sectors is unlikely to be very useful for investors.

Private Infrastructure Debt Broad Market Indices (Europe, 2000-2016)

In this paper, we present the first results of a multiyear project to create and compute fully fledged private infrastructure debt investment benchmarks. The first version of these indices span 14 European countries over 16 years, going back to 2000. They are built from a representative sample by size and vintage of the private European infrastructure debt market, including hundreds of borrowers and debt instruments over that period.

In particular, we focus on what distinguishes infrastructure debt from corporate debt. When developing this research, we used two competing views of what defines infrastructure investment:

The first one equates infrastructure investment with “project finance”¹ and echoes the June 2016 advice of the European insurance regulator (EIOPA, 2016) to the European Commission to define ”qualifying infrastructure” for the purposes of the Solvency-II directive;

The second view, also expressed during recent prudential regulatory consultations, defines infrastructure investment more broadly and proposes to include “infrastructure corporates” to the definition of qualifying infrastructure assets, effectively arguing that a number of firms – because they operate in industrial sectors corresponding to real-world infrastructure – constitute in themselves a unique asset class, with its own risk/reward profile.

Private Infrastructure Broad Market Equity Indices (Europe, 2000-2016)

This paper presents the first results of an ambitious applied research project to create and compute fully fledged private infrastructure equity investment benchmarks. The indices we created span 14 European countries over 16 years, going back to 2000. In this paper we focus on three questions:

1. How does a “broad market” index of private infrastructure equity investments perform relative to a public equity market reference index?

2. Is there a difference between the risk-adjusted performance of contracted, merchant, and regulated infrastructure, or between investing in “project finance” vehicles and “infrastructure corporates”?

3. How much diversification of investment specific risk can be achieved in portfolios of private infrastructure equity investments?

2017 EDHEC Research Insights

In this Spring 2017 issue of the EDHEC/IP&E Research Supplement, research by EDHECinfra includes the summary results of the first in-depth survey of institutional investors’ perceptions and expectations of infrastructure investment.

It documents the reasons for investing in infrastructure and whether currently available investment products or strategies are helping investors meet these objectives.

The findings provide a first step towards integrating infrastructure in long-term investment solutions. Key findings are reported in the following areas: investment beliefs; products and objectives; benchmarking; and ESG (environmental, social and governance).

We also ask whether focusing on listed infrastructure stocks creates diversification benefits previously unavailable to large investors that are already active in public markets. We conclude that what is typically referred to as listed infrastructure is not an asset class or a unique combination of market factors, but instead cannot be persistently distinguished from existing exposures in investors’ portfolios.

Benchmarking Infrastructure Project Finance: Objectives, Roadmap, and Recent Progress

In this paper, we describe the objectives, roadmap and recent progress of academic research with respect to benchmarking the financial performance of privately-held infrastructure debt or equity investment, with a focus on the recent development of a new framework to collect data and evaluate such assets.
 
To determine a way forward, we take the following approach: we start from the reasons why infrastructure investment benchmarks are in demand and list the key questions that such benchmarks should be expected to answer. Unfortunately, they remain very difficult to answer today, for lack of the relevant information.
 
Hence, we propose a roadmap to develop a definition, valuation, data collection and portfolio construction framework of privately-held infrastructure debt and equity cash flows designed to answer these important questions.

Towards better infrastructure investment products?

In this paper sponsored by the Global Infrastructure Hub (a G20 Initiative) EDHECinfra presents the result of the first in-depth survey of institutional investors’ perceptions and expectations of infrastructure investment, and asks what next generation of investment products can better answer the needs of long-term investors in infrastructure.

Towards efficient benchmarks for infrastructure equity investments

The paper highlights a recent research quandary with respect to infrastructure equity investment which has also been a source of interrogation for final investors: while the economics of underlying infrastructure investment suggests a low and potentially attractive risk profile, the experience of investors and available research evidence have been different and rather mixed.
This paper attempts to explain why this has been the case and what new research and benchmarking efforts are necessary to create investment solutions that realign expectation and observed investment performance as well as to inform the regulatory debate in relation to institutional investing in long-term assets like infrastructure equity.