Firstly, we want our readers to hear a little about you. Can you please share your background and the key milestones in your sustainable infrastructure career?
Hi, my name is Dr. Barbara Weber. I have over 20 years of infrastructure investment, private equity and project finance experience gained at Dresdner Kleinwort Benson, PolyTechnos Venture Partners and B Capital Partners AG. Before this, I worked for the Private Sector Development Group of the World Bank and am a Member of the Non-Executive Board at Bekk og Strom AS, owner and operator of hydro power plants in Norway and have been a Non-Executive Director of the London Pension Fund Authorities (LPFA). I graduated, among others, from Harvard University and University of St. Gallen and am a prolific author – one of my 4 books being “Infrastructure as an Asset Class. Second Edition” (2016)
What attracted you to RealPort and taking on the responsibility of being part of this exciting venture?
RealPort offers a truly new business model tailored to investor needs in two ways. First, it offers a platform, for investors who want to divest a (minority) share in one of their renewable energy (solar PV and wind) portfolio assets to a third party, while keeping control and managing the asset in question. Second, it offers investors a platform to find investment opportunities in the renewable energy (solar PV and wind) space, pre-screened by RealPort’s Asset Selection Committee (ASC). Such investors may be resource constrained (either capital and/or personnel constraints) to source and assess direct investment opportunities all by themselves. They may still want to go direct and be able to tailor their renewable asset portfolio to their needs (e.g. only German solar PV assets). The RealPort platform allows investors to buy a suitable share (size wise, risk wise, return wise) in a renewable energy asset by “piggy backing” on the due diligence undertaken by the seller plus the additional quality check by RealPort’s ASC.
What about RealPort’s proposition appeals to you the most?
If, and when, investors trust the business model with the block-chain based securitization plus the external due diligence, they can reduce transaction costs for direct investments substantially. This is also the main problem of the sector I feel RealPort is addressing.
You are a member of RealPort’s Asset Selection Committee. Can you speak about the ASC mandate and how you will be working with the Team at RealPort, now and in the future?
The main mandate of the ASC is to help define strict investment guidelines for assets, which are eligible to go onto the platform, including sustainability guidelines, and to check their fulfilment for each investment before it is offered to third parties. In the future, the ASC could possibly evolve to look at a broader range of investment types.
What key trends in financing sustainable infrastructure are you seeing at the moment and which sector do you think will grow the most?
Sustainability finally starts becoming recognised as something, which can no longer be avoided. Some investors react to this by setting up special sustainability or impact buckets. Ideally, assessments around sustainability including positive or negative impact should not be restricted to a special bucket but guide ALL investment decisions. I trust sooner or later investors will get there and be in only due to stricter regulatory requirements. In the next decade, all sectors that have to do with energy transition in the broader sense will see growth.
Read more about the Asset Selection Committee here.