WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The World Bank on Thursday launched a new initiative that would bring together governments, development institutions and private investors to form public-private partnerships for infrastructure.
The initiative, known as the Global Infrastructure Facility, would structure projects to attract long-term investors such as pension funds and insurance companies in order to meet the developing world's $1 trillion in infrastructure needs over the next six years.
"We have several trillions of dollars in assets represented today looking for long-term, sustainable and stable investments," World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said. "The real challenge is not a matter of money but a lack of bankable projects – a sufficient supply of commercially viable and sustainable infrastructure investments."
The idea has already attracted banking groups like Citibank and HSBC and the reinsurance firm Swiss Re, as well as the Australian and Japanese governments.
The facility itself, known as GIF, would not provide direct project funding but aims to bring in investors to advise governments on how to structure potential projects in order to attract private capital. It would also bring together a myriad of development institutions so they do not give conflicting advice to countries.
"There's a lot of money hidden under the mattress," Jordan Schwartz, head of the GIF, told reporters ahead of the launch, adding that pensions funds in Canada and Australia, and European insurance companies were particularly interested in investing in long-term stable projects.
"In three to five years, (my goal is that) this has become the standard way we design a significant portfolio of projects," he said.