* Jim Leech appointed special advisor to Infrastructure Bank
* Not all products will need government funds -Leech
* Some institutions don't have talent for greenfield -Leech
* Bank "can learn from Caisse project in Montreal -Leech
(Adds comments on Caisse project, 'greenfield' infrastructure)
By Matt Scuffham
TORONTO, Feb 10 Canada could finance some future
infrastructure projects entirely through private sources,
without using government funds, the special advisor for its new
infrastructure bank said after his appointment on Friday.
Canada's Liberal government announced last November it would
set up the agency to supplement government investment in
projects like new roads and bridges with funding from private
investors such as pension and sovereign wealth funds.
The government advisory panel that recommended its creation
had said it could look to raise C$4 to C$5 of private funding
for every C$1 provided by taxpayers to fund projects.
However, Jim Leech, the pension executive recruited on
Friday to advise the government on the bank, said it could go
further with private investment on some projects.
"I'm sure that there are many projects that won’t need any
investment from taxpayer money. They can be totally funded by
the private sector," Leech said.
New U.S. President Donald Trump has said he would launch a
$1 trillion infrastructure spending program financed entirely by
private sources. Infrastructure products are traditionally
funded by a mix of private and public investment.
Leech said one of the challenges for the infrastructure bank
will be that institutional investors such as pension funds
traditionally prefer to invest in 'brownfield' assets which have
already been built, while the greatest infrastructure need is
for 'greenfield' assets which have yet to be built.
"I think that’s where the logjam is. You have, on the one
hand, on a global basis, a lot of money looking for
infrastructure to invest in but it doesn’t have the talent
within those institutions to be able to assume greenfield."
The Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec is the only
Canadian pension fund making large-scale 'greenfield'
investments, having agreed to construct one of the world's
largest light rail networks in Montreal, a project which could
become a test case.
"I think what the Caisse is doing is very encouraging. I was
impressed to see they are building a team within the Caisse
which knows how to assess some of this risk. I think that's good
innovation and there are things we can learn from it," Leech
He said the bank would look at ways to make projects "risk
tolerable" for financial institutions but declined to specify
how they might do that. Infrastructure experts say they could
provide guarantees on future returns or backstop some
(Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and