The S&P Global Ratings Annual Infrastructure Finance Seminar kicked off last week at Haberdasher’s Hall in the City of London. Journalists, investors, bankers, analysts and politicians alike gathered to engage in two of the most important discussions affecting the UK infrastructure sector today: the ongoing energy transition – from carbon intensive processes such as coal-burning, to cleaner energy resources, such as gas and renewables – and more pressingly, the risks of a British exit, or ‘Brexit’, from the EU.
Susan Gray, S&P’s global head of infrastructure, opened proceedings, welcoming a special guest address from Damian Hinds, MP and Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury. Hinds took to the podium to set out the government’s priorities for approaching the twin challenge of fighting climate change and preserving the country’s energy security at the same time.
Conversation quickly turned to the likely impacts of a Brexit on UK infrastructure development. On one side of the debate was Andrew Hilton, director of the think tank Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation, who suggested that fears over the effects of leaving the EU have been exaggerated and that Britain would unlikely see any great impact, at least within the first few years. On the other side was S&P’s chief economist for EMEA, Jean Michel Six, who explained that macroeconomic turbulence, currency depreciation and a possible sovereign rating downgrade were all strong near-term possibilities following a ‘leave’ vote. In addition, S&P’s managing director of infrastructure finance and head of environmental risk research, Michael Wilkins, discussed findings from a recent S&P survey of 51 institutional investors on the topic.
As a result of Moorgate’s media campaign, the event and its key takeaways were covered across the national and specialist press, including Bloomberg (subscription required), IJGlobal, Environmental Finance (here and here) and BusinessGreen.