Concert Infra MD sees strong P3 outlook

Exclusive: Concert Infrastructure managing director Derron Bain discusses the outlook for the firm and the Canadian P3 market after securing its latest deal.

At the end of September, the Government of Alberta and the Concert-Bird Partners consortium reached financial close on the five-school P3 bundle.

It is the latest deal to be added to Concert Infrastructure's growing portfolio of P3 schemes, and managing director Derron Bain is confident there remains a strong market for future investment.

“We have a good track record in bundled P3s,” he told P3 Bulletin as he reflected on the latest deal. “Our intent is to continue to do what we have been doing.” That is, targeting exclusively social infrastructure projects based in Canada.

Bain pointed to areas of First Nations infrastructure, including in Canada’s North, such as community buildings and services, water and housing, where he said there remains a “huge need and moral obligation”, as offering potential for new opportunities.

“There is a growing focus on the federal government to act and deliver,” he continued. “The question is how do you meet those needs at scale? Bundling can be part of the answer, but also there is a challenge around how First Nations are set up and governed.”

Bain also said he remains keen to see how the federal government will develop its approach to its own infrastructure needs and assets across government departments now that the election is out of the way.

“Before the election, the National Infrastructure Assessment consultation provided a lot of good feedback on issues such as the need for an integrated planning approach with a long-term view, the role of the Canada Infrastructure Bank, and the value of private sector finance in infrastructure delivery. We will see what the next step is on that.”

Bain said that the P3 model has proven to be politically robust in part because of the obvious tangible schedule, costs and integrated value for money benefits but also because the top companies investing in schemes with along term commitment are - like Concert - backed by Canadian institutional investors, meaning the case can be made that those companies are investing workers’ money into long-term infrastructure projects that benefit their communities in many ways beyond just the bricks and mortar infrastructure.

“There is a general recognition in Canada that P3 and private investment is a valuable tool,” he added. “It remains a small but important subset of the overall strategy for government.”