The U.S. has a long history of public infrastructure financing with municipal bonds, compared with other countries. More recently, the U.S. market has been opening up to private capital to fund infrastructure projects but “the rate of growth has been uneven,” said Michael Kulper, executive director-infrastructure in IFM's New York office.
However, the Indiana Toll Road deal could herald a change. “A transaction of this scale is a marker. It's the largest single infrastructure transaction in the U.S. that I am aware of,” Mr. Kulper said.
U.S. infrastructure investment is divided into transportation-related projects and energy development, said TIAA-CREF's Ms. Moshiashvili.
Most of the action now is from the energy infrastructure sector.
For example, the infrastructure investment consortium formed in April by the $191.4 billion California State Teachers' Retirement System, West Sacramento, and money manager APG Asset Management NV, Amsterdam, is expected initially to invest about $500 million in North American energy infrastructure.
And last year, IFM invested roughly $1.3 billion in Freeport LNG Development LP's natural gas liquefaction and liquefied natural gas loading facility on Quintana Island near Freeport, Texas.
Another bright spot is the president's renewable energy initiative, which could boost investment in renewable projects, Ms. Moshiashvili said.
In June, the Obama administration announced a clean-energy investment program that includes $4 billion in commitments from the private sector, including more than $1 billion from institutional investors.
“The new standards have the potential to encourage many opportunities for incremental investment in U.S. energy infrastructure in the renewables and electric and (natural) gas transmission sectors, among others,” IFM's Mr. Kulper said.
Investors are bullish on North America.
So far this year, seven funds raised a total of $12 billion as of Aug. 4, compared with seven funds that raised a combined $9.3 billion to invest in Europe, four funds that raised $2.4 billion for Asia and three funds with a total of $3 billion to invest elsewhere in the world, data from London-based alternatives investment research firm Preqin show.
Three of the five largest infrastructure funds raised in the second quarter will invest in the U.S. — I Squared Capital's $3 billion ISQ Global Infrastructure Fund; MC-Seamax Management Ltd.'s $300 million MC-Seamax Shipping Opportunities Fund; and CarVal Investors' $252 million CVI Shipping Opportunities Fund, according to Preqin data.
In 2013, only one of the 10 largest infrastructure funds closing that year had North America investment plans.
Even so, investors do not view all infrastructure investment in the same way.