Change in Corporate Culture to Have Long-Term Positive ImpactBy Pedro Alcalá | Tue, 05/25/2021 - 13:03
Q: What would you consider to be the most important outcomes from 2020?
A: One of the positive consequences of what we had to go through in 2020 is that I see investors, managers and companies putting more emphasis on ESG factors. If you look at the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report published at the beginning of 2020, it saw a pandemic as a high impact but low probability event; other social and environmental risks were considered even more pertinent. Companies have begun to realize that the only way to address environmental and social risks was to strengthen corporate governance. In the past, the E and S in ESG were the recipients of most of the attention; but without the G, the other two letters do not have accountability. Today, the most important standard for institutional fund managers and investors are those set forth by the United Nations PRI division, which stands for Principles of Responsible Investment. We have been involved in the development of PRI’s network and it has grown significantly in the last year as a result of a significant change in corporate culture that can only have a positive impact in the years to come.
Q: When did you believe we would go back to normal?
A: Under the assumption that the pandemic would last a few months, many people and organizations made the mistake of treating the pandemic like time spent holding their breath underwater. They did make their decisions based on appropriate expectations, and as a result ended up having to withstand great amounts of stress. Now some still would like to go back to normal. Instead, we should understand our new reality. We have a great opportunity to design a new and more flexible organizational model that provides many benefits. The level of efficiency with which we will be operating once the pandemic is over can be much higher. We will be able to provide a much more optimized work-life balance through advanced remote communications and a redefinition of the interaction in the office and the purpose of successful business trips.
Q: What are the most important consequences in your portfolio as a result of the pandemic?
A: In terms of highway development and road concessions, an event such as the pandemic has the legal rights to the reestablishment of a financial equilibrium. The funds for these kinds of restitutions can come from a change in a concession’s rates, fees and royalty schemes. Thus, although the pandemic had an impact on road and highway traffic it has affected the value of the concessions themselves. In the water infrastructure projects category, the market adjusted to an increase in residential consumption, along with a number of localized access issues in some parts of the country that added difficulties to the generation of revenue and needed special programs to be implemented. The electric sector saw an important change in demand that led to adjustments at the plants and a reduction in prices at the wholesale market. Those effects in electricity demand were temporary. The midstream market was also affected by a temporary reduction in fuel consumption, and the upstream segment has already fully recovered as reflected in the oil price, which restored prices to higher levels than those in 2019.
Q: How would you apply that clarity to the changing legal frameworks that concern you?
A: The changes to the legal framework in the energy sector are obviously a concern for many investors. In my opinion, what we went through during the last few months proved that Mexico has strong institutions that are vigilant of the Constitutionality of any decision by the Executive or the Legislative branches of the State. The constitutional protections that investors were given by Judges were granted from the start. In addition, the Antitrust Commission proved to be a very valuable and autonomous regulatory body. In the end, the investors that believed in the strength of Mexican Institutions will make good returns because the demand for power generation and for oil and gas logistics will continue to grow and the legal controversies will be solved to the benefit of the investors.
Ainda Energía & Infraestructura is a private equity fund management firm investing in essential infrastructure and energy works across Mexico. The company has a team of experts from diverse backgrounds, including government, transportation and law.