“Whilst P3 projects will still be an important part of our business, we are going to be a broader business than just straight P3s,” says David Swarbrick, UK & Ireland managing director at Invesis, the new name for Bam PPP.
The change of name and focus has been on the cards since December 2020, when pension fund manager and global investor PGGM took a 50% stake in Bam PPP. “Our ownership structure changed with the PGGM stake, and we are no longer simply a subsidiary of Royal Bam Group, we are an independent infrastructure investor,” explains Swarbrick.
As part of this assertion of its new status, Invesis has a clear plan for growth. “We remain focused on our home market of Europe and P3s, but we are also aiming to diversify our portfolio into new areas,” says Swarbrick.
In particular, the expansion will focus on markets in the US and Australia, but the growth plan also means looking for new sectors as well as new geographies in which to operate. While the firm will continue its presence in Europe - and sees good potential in places like Ireland, Belgium, Germany and even in certain sectors of the UK market - it anticipates the real growth to come in North America and in those new sectors.
Invesis will focus on digital infrastructure and the energy transition sectors. “We are responding to the global infrastructure need,” explains Swarbrick. “There has been an explosion in the demand for digital technology and therefore the need for data storage facilities; while the global focus on the energy transition to Net Zero carbon emissions and tackling climate change are also creating a big need. These are the drivers that we are positioning for.
“We will look for projects where we can add value,” he continues. “That will be things like availability-based P3 projects in transportation, social infrastructure and we see a potential niche for ourselves in water infrastructure, where there is a lot of potential in the US.”
Invesis’s Dutch heritage will be leveraged here - after all, Bam has delivered some of the biggest water projects in the world, such as the IJmuiden Sea Lock.
Swarbrick also points out that the firm has a long track record in Europe of delivering schools and government buildings. “We think there will be a wave of grouped schools projects to come in both the US and Belgium, and we are positioning ourselves for that,” he says.
The US schools sector is somewhat disparate due to the fact that schools are managed not by states or even municipalities, but by often small districts. While acknowledging this, Swarbrick believes there will be enough momentum carrying through from successful schemes such as the Prince George’s County Schools P3 in Maryland for more projects to follow suit.
As Invesis looks to establish its presence in North America, the firm will seek to build up its portfolio with acquisitions on the secondary market, as well as looking for new schemes. “We are keen to do greenfield projects, but also acquisitions in the secondary market to gain a footprint,” explains Swarbrick. “One of the key objectives we have is to develop partnerships with local contractors. On that we will take an agnostic approach, seeking to choose the right partner depending on the location and sector.
“The ultimate objective is to have a North American business unit that exists in the same way as our home markets, in that it is self-sustaining.”
The company will look at potential projects in Canada as well as the US. “We are seeing some opportunities in Canada, but it is a mature market with some strong players,” he says.
The same could be said of Australia, however Invesis has a key difference here: it already has a place at the table, thanks to its role on Brisbane’s Cross River Rail P3. “That puts us in a good position to look to continue our journey in Australia,” says Swarbrick.
The plans for Invesis are clearly bold, but Swarbrick sees them as an extension of the way Bam PPP has done its business over the years.
“Bam PPP has had a footprint across a range of jurisdictions that has allowed it to continue to make investments as the level of activity changes in those different countries,” he points out. “For example, we have been able to do schools and prisons in Belgium, more recently social housing in Ireland, and in the future there is potential for water projects in the UK. However, you are not going to get significant growth from those markets alone, which is why we are looking at different markets for growth.”