"I would say the most exciting part of the world right now, both for energy and infrastructure, is Africa."

Interview with Thierry Deau, Founding Partner, CEO, Meridiam

Dialogue  Capital (DC): Can you please tell us what regions you focus on and what sectors are on top of your list right now?

Mr. Deau:

Meridiam is active in OECD countries, primarily in Europe and North America. We have also been covering Africa since the launch of our Africa-focused fund. And we are very happy to partner with a growing number of African governments to address the infrastructure investment gap in the region. Whether it is a solar farm in Senegal or a university campus in Ivory Coast, we are currently contributing to a number of key regional initiatives and projects which fit our investment philosophy. We also feel that several MENA countries, in spite of the Syrian crisis, are on the verge of seeing a great number of quality infrastructure projects emerge. Through our European fund, we are particularly active in Turkey, which remains one of the most active markets globally.

In more developed markets, new priorities are emerging which correspond to significant investment opportunities. With the support of the largest institutional investors in France, we have recently launched a new fund focused on the energy transition of European countries, which will complement our renewed commitment to investing in “traditional” infrastructure sectors.

DC: What are the main projects you are involved with?

Mr. Deau:

We have been investing over the last 10 years in 44 projects, so I will focus on three key examples. The first one is the Adana hospital in Turkey. Since we have begun our partnership with the Turkish authorities a few years ago, we have made great progress in addressing the healthcare needs of the population. Adana is the first of a series of four hospital projects there overall. We are targeting to issue a green and social bond to fund one of these projects, which would be a world premiere. Other projects I would like to mention are the LaGuardia Airport where the consortium we are a part of will rebuild the central terminal known as Terminal B, because it is an emblem of the profound change in how decision makers in the US are approaching their infrastructure deficit. Then the Port Calais project in France is in fact the first project supported by the Juncker Plan.

DC: How do you rate the investment climate in the regions that you are active in general? And what is your outlook?

Mr. Deau:

Obviously the infrastructure investment gap remains a global reality which needs to be addressed. Having said this, each region has its own issues. In Europe we need the Member States, under the impulse of the European Commission, to keep pushing for infrastructure investment in the energy sector, and to make the Juncker Plan a reality leveraging its already good start. We also need a better balance in terms of regulatory framework / market design for the private sector, for the power sector to re-attract long term investors and support the transition towards a low carbon economy.

I would say the most exciting part of the world right now, both for energy and infrastructure, is Africa. What is particularly encouraging is that many African countries have a long experience in infrastructure investment through concessions and IPPs, which is why we are now able to develop several robust projects contributing to the virtuous circle between investment and growth.

Lastly, in the United States, American political leaders are now grasping the reality of their infrastructure situation with an increasing demand from local communities for efficient infrastructure. This will need to be converted into improved and efficient public procurement processes at the at the States’ level, supported by a powerful nation-wide vision for infrastructure projects.