On the horizon: The i3 conference is fast approaching

by Drew Campbell

Institutional Real Estate, Inc. will host its 12th annual i3 conference in May in Toronto. With the event fast approaching we have been checking in with our advisory boards via conference call and email to learn what issues and topics are impacting decision makers investing in infrastructure in 2017.

These discussions highlight for us what is important to investors such as public pension plans, insurance companies and sovereign wealth funds who attend the i3 events, and what the issues are that affect their investment outlook and plans for 2017 and beyond — we incorporate this into our agenda for the conference and board meeting.

The issues and trends impacting investor thinking and decision making are always in flux, and this year that is especially true — the politics of the past 12 to 18 months reflected in the shaping of the agenda. The opening session of the conference explores how a new political environment could shape how investments are made:

Global infrastructure opportunities

Brexit and the election of Donald Trump have signaled the rise of populism in many developed markets. What are the risks and opportunities across sectors in this new political environment? Have infrastructure investors altered how they calculate political, currency and other types of risk in this new environment? Is foreign investment in domestic infrastructure assets more difficult to achieve today than in the recent past?

Following the formal session, conference participants will break off into small discussion groups to dig further into different aspects of the subject and then report back to the larger group its ideas, concerns and perspectives. The process will last an hour and 15 minutes and will provide participants a snapshot of the thinking of global practitioners making and advising on a host of infrastructure investments across the spectrum of sectors on nearly all continents.

Maybe we are biased, but we work hard to tease out this kind of information as well as create networking opportunities with knowledgeable people for our conference and board member guests, and we strive to offer great takeaway value.

The next conference session invites both private equity and publicly listed investment managers to discuss their perspectives and outlooks on the global infrastructure market and the opportunities for investors:

Private equity manager and listed manager perspectives

Where is their common ground on the market? Explore the different opportunity sets of the two markets. Gain more insight on various risk profiles each market offers and learn about what strategies managers use to offset those risks.

Private and public market investing in infrastructure are worlds apart in structure, fees and durations, but the assets, markets and economies these companies operate within are the same. The session will provide another insightful look at the world of infrastructure investing as it stands in 2017 and the future — the sectors and the risks and trends that are most important.

Another change in the investing landscape in 2017 is the increase of interest rates in the United States and inflation. i3 conference participants will hear from experts in infrastructure debt investing about how rising rates and inflation are affecting infrastructure investing generally and debt in particular.

What happens to infrastructure debt in a rising rate and rising inflation market?

Hear how and why infrastructure debt could still perform well in a challenging market. Discover the different strategies managers use to limit downside and position for upside in a different market.

The remainder of the i3 conference agenda focuses on investors — pension plans, insurance companies, sovereign wealth funds, foundations and endowments — and the issues and trends at the top of their minds. We ask investors to submit topics for roundtable discussions, which include group leader reports to the full audience about those discussions with time for questions and answers. For peers and service providers such as investment managers and consultants who work with these investors, these sessions pinpoint what is most important to investors about their infrastructure programs, which can help them build stronger and more productive relationships.

Following the group discussions and the corresponding group leader reports is a final session of the day:

Investor Panel: What’s on infrastructure investors’ minds?

What strategies are they reviewing? Which trends are they following and why? What types of risks are they concerned about and how are they managing those risks?

This is a chance for i3 participants to gain the perspective of investors who are active in the infrastructure market — what their programs try to achieve with infrastructure investments and how they go about reaching those objectives in today’s market.

One primary goal for the i3 conference is that by the end of the event, attendees will have a solid grasp of current conditions in the global market for infrastructure investing as well as understand what is most important to investors such as pensions, insurance companies and other institutional investors operating in the market. An equally important goal is that attendees strengthen existing relationships and build new ones.


Drew Campbell

Los Gatos, Calif.

March 20, 2017

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