Doubts over French pipeline dismissed
Although there have been concerns over the level of political support for PPPs following the election of Socialist Francois Hollande last month, "the government understands the need for growth and may seize on a number of inevitable big projects", said Thierry Déau, chief executive at Meridiam.
Projects include the €20bn Grand Paris Metro around the city and an €8bn Franco-Italian rail link under the Alps. The university and defence programmes, which involve the restructuring and relocation of facilities around the country, are also expected continue through PPP, he said.
However, speakers agreed that the scale and level of deals that reached financial close in 2011, such as the €5.4bn Tours-Bordeaux high-speed rail line and the €1.5bn Ministry of Defence HQ, was unlikely to be repeated for some years.
"The tsunami is over," said Francois Bergere, director, MAPPP, Ministry of Finance. "We will see less mega projects and more upgrade [work] than greenfield at national level. The rhythm has been tailing off for the last year."
With up to 80% of PPPs implemented at local level, increased attention will also turn to local governments and their pipeline of sports and leisure schemes.
"Many socialist mayors have embarked on PPP and found them satisfactory so the hope is that reality will prevail," said Bergere.
But as well as the much-discussed problems accessing long-term bank debt finance following the reduced appetite of French banks, it was also suggested that anxiety in the UK over the PFI model may trickle into French government thinking. "[The UK PFI Review] is being closely watched," said Bergere.
At the event, hosted by PPP Bulletin and attended by over 100 delegates, high-profile speakers from around the world also discussed pipeline in Canada, US, UK and Benelux. The five markets, including France, were voted the most active for PPP over the next 12 months in a survey organised by PPP Bulletin in partnership with Deloitte.