4 March 2021

How often do private investors co-invest in infrastructure alongside public institutions?

4 March 2021

Our analysis indicates that when the private sector invests in infrastructure, around 40% of these transactions also involve a public institution such as a development bank (DB) (whether a multilateral development bank [MDB] or a national DB), an export credit agency (ECA) or a public finance institution (PFI). However, there are important variances by income group.

Looked at as a proportion of all total investment with private involvement, co-investment from public institutions – and particularly ECAs and MDBs – is proportionally higher in low- and middle-income countries (LICs and MICs) than in high-income countries (HICs). This suggests that the contributions of public institutions are more critical in LICs and MICs than in HICs.

There has also been a notable increase in HICs over time in the share of private transactions occurring without any involvement of a public institution. The latest data show that in 2020, more than three-quarters of private infrastructure investment in HICs occurred in transactions where the private sector acted alone.

While the total value of private-only transactions still fell in 2020, it was surprisingly resilient, particularly compared with transactions that involved a DB or PFI - which fell significantly from USD19 billion in 2019 to only USD4 billion in 2020. This may reflect a redirection of funds from national DBs away from infrastructure toward more immediate, emergency health and income support measures.