S&P Global Ratings has today published the latest edition of Infrastructure Finance Outlook, the newsletter bringing together in-depth sector analysis and research from across the Infrastructure practice.
This edition focuses on the energy transition and the growing importance of ESG, as well as how the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated existing trends in the sector. The economic disruption caused by the pandemic is also likely to prompt a new cycle of sustainable infrastructure investment, especially now that the outcome of the US election has become clear.
Read the full newsletter here.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the energy sector. Writing in Euractiv, Simon Redmond and Elena Anankina, Senior Directors at S&P Global Ratings, analyse the contrasting effects of the outbreak on the oil and natural gas sectors, and the implications for the wider energy transition.
Oil has suffered the most pronounced short-term impact of all energy sources, with demand falling by over 20 million barrels a day in March and April 2020 alone. On the other hand, gas has remained relatively resilient to the immediate impacts of the pandemic.
The downside for gas, rather, is expected to be longer term: its role as a “bridge fuel” is set to be shortened by an expedited transition to renewables. And, while oil demand has taken a short-term hit, its long term trajectory is set to be largely unchanged. The full article, in Euractiv, can be found here.
On 24th July, the EU approved a new plastic waste levy as part of the bloc’s seven-year recovery package. Buried deep inside the plan, the “Bottle Deposit Law” set the levy at €800/tonne and will come into force in January 2021 – despite the fact that recycling infrastructure in the EU is insufficient to provide an adequate alternative.
Markets were muted in their response, most likely unaware of this key detail, but non-profit financial think tank Planet Tracker’s latest report examines how the move will push the industry to expand recycling and embrace circular economy principles.
Speaking to the FT, Gabriel Thoumi, Director of Financial Markets, Planet Tracker commented: “It’s a very clear signal that markets need to pursue circular economy objectives and outcomes, and they’re going to get financially supported to do so.”
The full article was published in FT Moral Money and is available here.
Widespread coronavirus-related lockdowns and general economic downturn have had an unprecedented effect on global air traffic, which is projected to be down 55% in 2020. Writing in Aerotime, Julyana Yokota, Senior Director, Infrastructure, at S&P Global Ratings, takes a look at the implications for the global airport sector.
While airports generally enjoy stronger liquidity positions than airlines, they are now facing significant credit stress – especially given the uncertainty surrounding aeronautical revenue. With aviation charges likely to be lower due to a weakened airline sector, airports must make an effort to diversify their revenue streams. Some level of structural change in the airport sector is inevitable, however the asset class’ infrastructural significance is means it is likely to survive the turbulent times ahead.
The full article can be found here.
Writing in Infrastructure Investor‘s August edition, S&P Global Ratings’ Trevor D’Olier-Lees, Senior Director, Infrastructure, North America and Dhaval Shah, Director, North America, discuss the way in which domestic and international bans on travel have dealt an unprecedented blow to both traffic levels and P3 toll roads’ revenues in North America.
Certainly, the region’s toll roads have been heavily affected by the pandemic-related lockdown, coming under significant pressure from a credit perspective. Despite this, the impact has been less severe when compared with other transportation assets and, based on the current trajectory, a full recovery is expected – though the time it will take to reach this remains uncertain and will vary from region to region.
The full story in Infrastructure Investor may be found here, or on page 36 of the August print edition.
Across the globe, political uncertainty is increasingly becoming the rule rather than the exception. Meanwhile, trade tensions continue to define relationships between major players – such as China the U.S. and Europe. Both factors may induce caution among infrastructure investors.
Writing for Institutional Investing in Infrastructure, S&P Global Ratings’ Karl Nietvelt, Head of Research in Global Infrastructure, agrees that geopolitical events are influencing the market.
Indeed, infrastructure is “an asset class with typically lengthy lifespans that, therefore, beneﬁts from political and regulatory calm,” according to Nietvelt. Yet today’s uncertain political climate, underpinned by elections in 2019, could dampen market confidence.
Another influential trend is the rising impact of environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns throughout the infrastructure sector. Organisations prioritising these issues “have achieved reduced costs, mitigated risk potential, and created revenue-generating opportunities,” continues Nietvelt.
Read the full article in Institutional Investing in Infrastructure here.
What key trends do infrastructure investors face in 2019? For one, nationalist and populist movements are on the rise – creating an environment of heightened political risk, which investors may find hard to navigate. The result could weigh heavily on regulatory stability, as well as country risk or sovereign credit quality.
In tandem, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) matters are beginning to rise in prominence. Increasingly, investors are stepping up their focus in their investment mandates on companies that are seen as acting more sustainably.
Against this backdrop, the latest edition of Outlook keeps investors abreast of the most-read research from the past quarter – offering insights into how the Infrastructure segment is changing and, importantly, how it may yet evolve.
Outlook is available in PDF here
Moorgate compiles, edits and designs Infrastructure Finance Outlook.
A changing geopolitical landscape could adversely affect traffic volumes in the transportation infrastructure sector, as U.S.-China trade tensions escalate and Brexit approaches.
S&P Global Ratings’ analysts recently spoke to Drew Campbell, i3 senior editor, IREI, about the ramifications for transportation assets.
Specifically in the case of Brexit, one possible outcome is increased spending to balance any downside. S&P’s analysts respond: “As U.K lawmakers attempt to offset the prospects of slower economic growth following Brexit, investment in infrastructure could accelerate.”
Read the article here
S&P Global Ratings has published two comprehensive studies of defaults and recoveries in the infrastructure sector.
The first report found that infrastructure sector experienced net positive rating movements in 2017, with 114 upgrades and 87 downgrades – reversing the negative trends seen in 2015 and 2016.
The second report, which explores defaults and recoveries between 1995 and2016, found that the 10-year cumulative default rate for unrated project finance bank loans was 6.3%, though this figure drops to 5.85% when only core sectors are considered. The default rate is lower still for public-private partnership (PPP) projects, including the U.K.’s PFI scheme (5.6%), which according to S&P demonstrates these schemes’ comparatively lower-risk nature.
The same report also concluded that the annual default gap between OECD and emerging markets has narrowed over the past decade – a probable result of the financial crisis, which affected advanced economies more.
Following Moorgate’s outreach, Global Capital, Project Finance International, and TXF covered the news (these items sit behind paywalls).
Rachel Goult, Director, S&P Global Ratings, looks at the GCC’s efforts to become a large producer of solar energy – and how new capital market involvement and green Islamic finance initiatives could help support the growing industry.
To read the full article please click here.