Date: 23rd January 2018   Location: Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, City of London

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“The InfraNews IIF Europe 2016 managed to bring together advisers, investors and management in a very constructive way for everybody’s benefit. A very valuable conference.” Basil Scarsella, Chief Executive Officer, UK POWER NETWORKS



Focus and Agenda

This year’s Infrastructure Investors Forum (IIF) Europe takes place as infrastructure investors embark on a journey which increasingly seems set to change the nature of investment in the asset class. Low interest rates and a continuing flight to safety mean that infrastructure funds are attracting unparalleled amounts of capital. And these forces are encouraging many toward platform transactions and the acquisition of utilities’ entire country portfolios rather than individual assets.

The risks and opportunities with which these trends are confronting the infrastructure investment community will be at the forefront of discussions when delegates gather at Inframation’s forum in January. For while there are greater opportunities to invest this capital in new and expanding sectors, the now very visible disruptive impact of technological change is forcing some to reconsider how they invest in core assets in areas like transport and communications. This will be the focus of one of the discussions at IIF Europe, as will the growing importance of asset management and how the application of new technology can improve operational efficiency and lead to greater yield.  The conference will also look at how energy investors are having to think again about whether they deploy capital in traditionally big markets such as gas or new sectors like solar and energy storage. And speakers will examine the validity of opportunities in the aircraft leasing and freight rails sectors and how these are being driven by factors such as a rising middle class in India and the major expansion of rail connections and trade routes between China and Europe.

IIF Europe will also discuss the concern some hold that the sector is on the edge of a precipice. If infrastructure remains attractive, they argue, infrastructure asset prices will continue to rise making it every more difficult to maintain an appropriate yield in the face of even smaller changes in the wider economy.  This partly depends on the size of leverage and whether assets are diverse enough to absorb a downturn in commodities and GDP. But derivatives could still accentuate weaknesses in some of these areas in a way they did not during the financial crisis, largely because today’s swaps are so out of kilter with interest rates.

And then there are the repercussions of future price reviews which have the potential to send shockwaves through an industry that has already suffered the fallout of retrospective tariff cuts in the Spanish renewables sectors and, for the owners of assets like Gassled, cuts to returns. UK water regulator Ofwat’s plans to increase the number of operational standards applied to water companies and to open the sector up to competition will therefore be a significant part of the focus of a discussion of these headwinds.

All in all, IIF Europe 2018 will set out the new path which the infrastructure industry is forging for itself to address these challenges and make the most of future opportunities. And the forum will be the first opportunity of the New Year to rub shoulders with the major stakeholders involved in determining this new direction.

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