The Belgian government is proposing measures aimed at boosting investment in infrastructure in the country.
The cabinet has approved draft legislation that would allow listed real estate companies to invest in infrastructure for the first time.
In addition, these regulated real estate companies would for the first time be allowed to join forces with institutional investors on infrastructure investments in unlisted vehicles. Up until now, these joint ventures have only been possible in real estate.
The government is also proposing to abolish a requirement for listed real estate companies to hold a majority stake in any joint venture with institutional investors.
The requirement will instead be for a minimum participation of 25%.
Tom Feys, senior advisor for the financial sector in the Belgian finance ministry, told IPE Real Estate that this measure should be interesting for institutional investors as it allows them to have control, which is not possible at the moment.
Requiring listed real estate companies to take at least a 50% stake in joint ventures could have prevented them from investing in infrastructure projects as as these can often be large, added Feys.
Overall the changes being proposed by the government are to “open up opportunities for institutional investors to co-operate in a more flexible way and on more asset classes than before with these listed companies”, he said.
Other changes foreseen in the draft legislation, according to a statement from the finance ministry, include the introduction of a new type of real estate vehicle, namely listed real estate companies with “a social purpose”.
In a statement, finance minister Johan Van Overtveldt, said: “In comparison with our neighbouring countries, investments in public infrastructure are still too insufficient. This change in the law is an important step in attracting additional long-term investments.”
The draft legislation has been passed to the Conseil d’État, the supreme administrative court, for a legal opinion. The government anticipates having this by the end of April, for the legislation to then be voted on in parliament before the summer recess.