The real estate blog: UK tops infrastructure development table

The UK has been revealed as the world’s most attractive country for infrastructure development, according to research carried out by Nabarro.


The global infrastructure index ranks 25 countries based on their tax environment, the availability of credit, economic stability, national stability, ease of doing business, level of private participation and sustainability and innovation.

Based on these criteria the UK has came out on top followed closely by Canada, the US, Australia and the UAE respectively.

Infrastructure has become a major priority for the Government after Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne pledged £100bn over the next five years dedicated to infrastructure investment. The Government also set up the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) to provide advice on the country’s key infrastructure priorities. Former Labour MP Lord Adonis, who has praised the UK for topping the table, is chairing the NIC.

“It’s a credit to the positive conditions for infrastructure investment created by the previous and current governments,” says Adonis. “However, it’s paramount that the UK also identifies and secures a good pipeline for investors.

“Without it, the Nabarro Infrastructure Index shows that the US and Canada offer equally attractive conditions for infrastructure investment which could threaten the UK’s number one position.”

Adonis’ belief that the UK needs a strong pipeline of projects reflects similar opinions voiced by those in the legal industry. Ashurst global head of energy, transport and infrastructure Mark Elsey told The Lawyer this week that he believed that no such pipeline existed outside of the power sector in the UK.

According to the infrastructure index devolving decision-making powers makes countries more attractive to investors, with four of the top five ranked firms operating some form of devolved powers. The largest Australian and Canadian provinces operate their own procurement bodies while the UAE runs a system that allows individual emirates to build specialisms. Although the UK’s system differs from these increasing amounts of control has been devolved to national and local government.

“What historically happens in a lot of un-devolved environments,” says Nabarro’s head of infrastructure Kristy Duane, “is that the central government process has no real link to the local area and is therefore not able to make decisions with local buy-in.

“Our thoughts are that devolution and the whole northern powerhouse concept should certainly help the delivery of infrastructure projects in those areas.”

Duane also added that the sector as a whole would benefit from having greater certainty that projects such as roads, bridges and railway lines will be developed. This certainty is likely to be beneficial for contractors as well as Nabarro’s consultancy clients, such as the Arup Group and AECOM.

The index goes some way to explain why overseas investors finance a large number of UK infrastructure projects, a point highlighted in this week’s feature. However, further devolution may allow investors to diversify their portfolio to regions outside of London.

The global infrastructure index

Country Rank Index score
UK 1 174
Canada 2 161
US 3 153
Australia 4 152
UAE 5 142
Germany 6 128
Singapore 7 121
France 8 109
Brazil 9 108
Turkey 10 107
Norway 11 104
China 12 101
Saudi Arabia 13 95
Italy 14 94
Qatar 15 91
Kuwait 16 86
India 17 84
Spain 18 84
Pjilippines 19 83
Thailand 20 79
Indonesia 21 72
Malaysia 22 60
Jordan 23 41
Vietnam 24 40
Egypt 25 34

Deals

Deal one: Slaughter and May is advising Legal & General Pensions Limited on the purchase and forward funding of Wales Broadcasting House in Cardiff.

The new 150,000sq ft development will be the headquarters of BBC Wales and following its completion the BBC will be granted a 20-year lease, which includes five yearly RPI linked rent reviews.

Real estate partner Jane Edwarde led the Slaughters team. She was assisted by associates Simon Bartle, Oliver Moir, Tim Meade, Tom Inker, Nicola Neritt and Sarah Tolley. Tax partner Jeanette Zaman also worked on the deal and was assisted by associate Homyar Pahlan.

The BBC was advised by TLT during the letting.

Deal two: Olswang has advised Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers Europe on the £66.2m acquisition of the Davidson Building in Covent Garden.

The building comprises of 31,800sq ft of offices and 12,400sq ft of retail space and is currently fully let to six tenants.

Real estate partner Martyn Needham led the team, which included real estate associates Toby Gribbin and Emily Flaxman and construction associate Louise Forbes. Cornerstone has been a client of Olswang since 2004.

The property was bought from Derwent Valley, which was advised by Slaughters. Partners Mark Gulliford and Lee Foxcroft acted led the Slaughters team.