What are infrastructure debt investments?

Challenges faced by traditional assets classes mean that interest in private asset investments, such as infrastructure debt, is rising. But how does it work?


Claire Smith

Claire Smith

Investment Director

Infrastructure is all around us, whether it is the road we drive along, the school we send our children to or the electricity we use to run our homes or businesses. By definition, infrastructure is often essential, difficult to replicate and has monopoly-like characteristics.

This can make investment in the financing of infrastructure projects very attractive to long-term investors. In particular, these types of investment have become more popular with institutional investors.  They can offer secure cashflows that are less sensitive to the wider economy, and therefore less correlated to traditional asset classes, such as corporate bonds and equities. This characteristic has become even more compelling as investors anticipate rising interest rates.

 Infrastructure assets are financed through a mixture of equity and debt. Debt is usually the predominant part of financing (around 75%). Infrastructure debt - specifically private debt - has a number of benefits that have proved attractive to investors. It has provided superior yields, credit diversification and the potential for longer duration. Their “monopolistic” characteristics and physical nature also means infrastructure debt investments often offer greater security for lenders than traditional corporate loans or bonds.

Protection for lenders is further enhanced by comprehensive risk monitoring. If certain key indicators suggest that a project is facing difficulties in repaying its debt, borrowers are able to trigger certain rights. They can, for instance, halt further withdrawals from reserve accounts, bar further borrowing, or cease paying dividends. The strength of these lender protections is demonstrated by the very small percentage of infrastructure projects that default on their loans1.

Of the small proportion of loans that do default, the outcomes are mostly good. In over 60% of cases lenders have recovered 100% of their loan[1], although there is no guarantee this would be the case in the future. Low levels of default combined with high recovery rates mean that overall expected losses have been low.  Comparing the 10 year expected loss of infrastructure debt versus corporate bonds of various credit ratings, infrastructure debt has a lower expected loss than A-rated corporate bonds. 

[1] Moody’s “Default and Recovery Rates for Project Finance Bank Loans, 1983-2015”

Important information

This communication is marketing material. The views and opinions contained herein are those of the named author(s) on this page, and may not necessarily represent views expressed or reflected in other Schroders communications, strategies or funds.

This document is intended to be for information purposes only and it is not intended as promotional material in any respect. The material is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any financial instrument. The material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, accounting, legal or tax advice, or investment recommendations. Information herein is believed to be reliable but Schroder Investment Management Ltd (Schroders) does not warrant its completeness or accuracy.

The data has been sourced by Schroders and should be independently verified before further publication or use. No responsibility can be accepted for error of fact or opinion. This does not exclude or restrict any duty or liability that Schroders has to its customers under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (as amended from time to time) or any other regulatory system. Reliance should not be placed on the views and information in the document when taking individual investment and/or strategic decisions.

Past Performance is not a guide to future performance. The value of investments and the income from them may go down as well as up and investors may not get back the amounts originally invested.  Exchange rate changes may cause the value of any overseas investments to rise or fall.

Any sectors, securities, regions or countries shown above are for illustrative purposes only and are not to be considered a recommendation to buy or sell.

The forecasts included should not be relied upon, are not guaranteed and are provided only as at the date of issue. Our forecasts are based on our own assumptions which may change. Forecasts and assumptions may be affected by external economic or other factors.

Issued by Schroder Unit Trusts Limited, 31 Gresham Street, London, EC2V 7QA. Registered Number 4191730 England. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.