Sovereign wealth funds surpassed US$ 7 trillion in assets before the end of 2014. These institutional investors typically have unique liabilities compared to public pensions. Many of the large sovereign wealth funds, funds with over US$ 30 billion in assets, seek long-term investments. When it comes to infrastructure, sovereign wealth funds pursue accommodating investment regimes, low political risk, assurances from government and opportunities to earn stable financial returns.
According to our research, Asia and Europe top the list as the largest recipients of direct infrastructure investment by sovereign wealth funds, followed by Australia and New Zealand. The Americas ranks dead last, even behind Africa. Breaking apart the Americas, South America has few large direct infrastructure investments by sovereign funds, the bulk going to North America. Notable infrastructure investments by sovereign wealth funds include investment in natural gas infrastructure – sovereign wealth funds’ private infrastructure investment in Cheniere Energy’s Export LNG Plant. Sovereign wealth funds also tend to favor investing in airports in Western Europe and transportation infrastructure in Australia. The vast majority of sovereign wealth funds investing in direct infrastructure prefer energy, transportation and telecommunication infrastructure.
“North America ranks behind Asia and Europe when it comes to sovereign wealth funds directly investing in infrastructure. Clearly, there is an opportunity for wealth funds to contribute to U.S. infrastructure,” said Michael Maduell, President of the SWFI in regard to the report.
It is important to note, however, that for this report SWFI looked at direct transactions into infrastructure, not fund commitments into infrastructure funds that invest in those regions. The importance of the allocation to infrastructure funds should not be discounted. Many sovereign wealth funds invest in infrastructure funds, especially investors with smaller balance sheets, to access opportunities with lower committed capital amounts, greater liquidity and lower idiosyncratic risk.
Outlook on Direct Infrastructure by Sovereign Wealth Funds
Infrastructure is key asset class for sovereign wealth funds, representing exposure to real assets. The long-term characteristics of infrastructure, combined with the attributes and time horizon of large sovereign wealth funds, make allocating capital attractive. The big hurdles for 2015 are the available opportunities in infrastructure, political risk and fair prices of developed assets.
This brief SWFI trend report charts and graphs direct infrastructure investments made by sovereign wealth funds.
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Source: SWFI – Sovereign Wealth Fund Transaction Database -www.swftransaction.com, February 24, 2015
In December 2016, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn became King of Thailand, succeeding his father King Bhumibol Adulyadej who passed away in October 2016. [ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]
by Michael Maduell
In my frequent and vast interactions with chief executives of small-to-large asset management firms, I’ve witnessed a number of traits that successful firms – meaning growing and retaining assets under management plus getting real respect in the industry – are able to properly execute. Besides generating amazing returns and matching the right solutions for the asset owner clients, CEOs need to be advancing their firms. Of course, quality client service should remain front of mind for fund management firms. In this short piece, I will focus on three traits that successful fund managers tend to possess.
1. Abundant Charisma from Founders
What is memorable and what will stick in one’s mind? A cadre of asset managers possess charismatic chief executives. BlackRock’s Larry Fink, DoubleLine’s Gundlach and Rajiv Jain of GQG Partners are some prime examples that come to mind. DoubleLine is a relatively new player compared to BlackRock and already amassed over US$ 100 billion in assets. Being a founder of the fund management company also helps, as CEO hires (often bringing a book-of-business contacts) may tend to look elsewhere unless generously compensated.
Having an effective cheerleader CEO is essential in nurturing and growing a sustainable franchise in a monochromatic industry of imitators. Too often, CEOs of some asset management firms are pure “salespeople” – too pushy or fake, or a highly-bright number-cruncher with low or nil emotional intelligence.
2. Not Drinking Too Much of One’s Own Kool-Aid
“We are a data-driven, technology, ESG-focused, smart-beta, solutions-led provider of services.” Hey, 2018 did I get that right?
Yes, your stuff does not stink. Like a broken clock, many CEOs rely on the flavor of the year or grappling a playbook, beating the idea over the heads of pensions and sovereign fund clients and prospects. In the long-run – meaning maintaining assets over a lengthy period of time – I find it’s better to be more objective when discussing potential strategies. I’m talking about a healthy dose of informative marketing. However, being overly-transparent or even talking yourself out of the strategy is not what I am directly advocating. It is important to be realistic about the strategy or thematic idea, as the attractiveness of these concepts shift over time.
3. Stirring up Controversy – Strategically
Shaking the tree and stirring the pot – this trait can surely backfire if not properly executed. Being the brightest crayon in the box can work. Even virtue signaling – latching onto a social current – can work in some instances, but CEOs that can deliver impactful counter-culture statements that shock the conscience tend to draw attention – and capital. This might not be the best example; however, upon the ascendancy of Abraaj Group, the firm’s founder, Arif Naqvi, often commented to not describe countries like China, India, etc. as emerging markets but as global growth markets – then creating a comparison to Wall Street and its risks. Abraaj was able to raise a ton of capital, before its downfall stemming from early 2018.
Boards need to diligently examine the CEOs they select. Does the firm want to grow or hold the line for the planned dividend? My belief is that if you are not growing, you are decaying, as the world moves faster and faster.
The views in this article are expressed by Michael Maduell.
Michael Maduell is President of SWFI.
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