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UK insurance industry commits £25bn to domestic infrastructure

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Six of Britain’s largest insurance companies have committed £25bn (€30bn) to domestic infrastructure projects, an allocation made possible due to clarity over the implementation of Solvency II regulations, according to the UK government.

Publishing a revised National Infrastructure Plan (NIP), the UK Treasury outlined a £375bn pipeline of potential projects, with chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander saying the insurance sector’s commitments marked a “massive vote of confidence” in the domestic economy.

The Association of British Insurers’ director general Otto Thoresen noted that the sector had a key role to play as a provider of long-term capital.

“Providing capital for infrastructure projects will help drive a competitive, healthy and resilient UK economy,” he added.

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The government said Aviva, Friends Life, Legal & General, Prudential, Scottish Widows and Standard Life had agreed to invest “at least” £25bn over the next five years.

“Suitable projects will include, but not be limited to, those included in the National Infrastructure Plan 2013 and can include major infrastructure projects led by private sector sponsors,” the Treasury said in a policy document released alongside the NIP.

The document, ‘The UK Insurance Growth Action Plan’, also said that, in the wake of concluded negotiations at the European level over Solvency II – a likely reference to the recent agreement over the Omnibus II Directive – the industry now had sufficient clarity to make long-term commitments.

“In line with the government’s broader transposition policy,” the document continued, “and given that Solvency II is maximum harmonising, implementation will be fully consistent with the Directive and not go beyond it – implementation will be through a direct copy-out approach where possible, avoiding gold plating.”

To coincide with the publication of the NIP, the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) confirmed it was in final negotiations with an asset manager to assume responsibility for the equity portfolio of its Pensions Infrastructure Platform (PIP).

The manager, Dalmore Capital, currently advises and manages £430m in UK assets, the NAPF noted.

Its statement added: “Following significant interest, and a rigorous selection process, asset managers were shortlisted for a number of investment mandates. 

“Discussions are still ongoing regarding the appointment of investment managers for the remaining mandates.”

The PIP launched its manager selection process in May, having attracted tentative commitments of £1bn from 10 UK pension funds.

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