What Is an Infrastructure Trust?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 13 March 2018
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An infrastructure trust owns public works and infrastructure projects like power plants, distributing earnings to people with shares in the trust. It can be a form of investment that may make up part of a larger portfolio. Returns can vary depending on how well the trust is managed; some trusts involve multiple holdings handled by large companies with experience in this area and may generate excellent returns. Others may be less reliable for investors.

These trusts form to finance the construction of a project. Once it’s operational, they are responsible for maintenance and upgrades, using profits generated by the project. At a water treatment facility, for example, the infrastructure trust distributes water to customers for a fee, using the money to run the plant and pay out dividends to shareholders, also called unit holders. Investors can hold multiple units and may be able to sell them to other investors or back to the trust, depending on how it is set up, when they want to liquidate their shares.

One issue with an infrastructure trust is the need for long-term management. This includes accurately valuing assets, planning ahead for upgrades, and following legislation trends that might result in changes. Public works facilities need to be able to adapt to increasing loads with minimal downtime; a power plant, for example, can count on higher electricity usage in a community over time and thus needs to be ready for it.

Annual reports are available for unit holders so they can review the finances and declarations of an infrastructure trust. These may provide important information about accounting practices at the organization and how it is handling topics like revaluing assets in response to changing market conditions. This documentation may be available freely on a website or public records database, or people can contact the trust to request copies in the mail. Registered unit holders should receive an annual copy without needing to request one as long as their addresses are current.

Investors considering an infrastructure trust have a number of resources they can use to evaluate potential options. These can include professional publications that discuss trust performance and related topics, along with news coverage and financial statements from trusts themselves. An investment adviser could have additional recommendations, as could a financial analyst who focuses on these kinds of investments and is familiar with the returns available. People may also want to consider trends like demands for green energy that might influence public works projects and utility profits in the future.



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