Is infrastructure the promised land?

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On one hand it looks good. In fact, it looks very good: governments around the world are preparing to spend liberally on infrastructure, banks like UBS have raised new infrastructure funds, private equity groups like Kohlberg Kravis Roberts have moved in, and legislation like the EU's Landfill Directive is encouraging a spurt of waste-related investment in the UK.

On the other hand, however, it also looks like infrastructure is suffering along with everything else. Macquarie has made deep cuts to some of its teams in London, Babcock is in meltdown and eliminating two thirds of its staff, and income from infrastructure assets like airports is expected to fall in the downturn.

So, which picture is accurate - and are there any jobs?

Recruiters in the infrastructure space say the correct portrait is of an industry that's still hiring, just not very much. "Firms are selectively filling senior roles," says James Wakefield, an infrastructure specialist at Cobalt Recruitment. "You are not going to see whole teams being hired any more in 2009."

"Nothing's booming at the moment, but infrastructure is one area where there's more hiring than others," says James Heath at recruitment firm Greenwich Partners.

People with an urge to work in infrastructure investing are advised to look at an alleged few roles at Macquarie in London, or at expanding funds like DIF, I2, or EQT (although we're not guaranteeing that any of these actually have jobs going).

Heath says infrastructure funds are open to hiring people from project finance, chartered accountancy, leveraged finance, or M&A. However, Wakefield says they're more fussy: "A lot of the investment roles this year will be for people with expertise in particular areas - for example, engineers with knowledge of waste processes."

Mark Wilson, an analyst at Catalyst Corporate Finance, says UK-based infrastructure funds are expected to invest 10bn in waste related infrastructure projects in the next 12 years, with 750m invested in the next three.

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