Global Infrastructure Company Classification Standard (GICCS)



The Global Infrastructure Company Classification Standard was created by EDHECinfra to provide investors with a frame of reference to approach the infrastructure asset class. Its added value lies in offering an alternative to investment categories that were inherited from the private equity and real-estate universe. The GICCS tracks the financial performance of several infrastructure companies globally and includes all the relevant aspects of infrastructure-procurement history and regulation. 

Scope of application

GICCS is a common classification standard that can be used by asset owners and managers, regulators, banks, and other investors across the infrastructure investment value chain, including consultants and researchers.

Objectives of the GICCS

  • Take into account the evolution of the infrastructure-procurement landscape in space and time;
  • Compare sectoral- and business risk exposures of investor portfolios with broad market benchmarks;
  • Document investable infrastructure markets;
  • Analyze the contribution of individual categories of companies to an infrastructure portfolio;
  • Design consistent sector- and business-risk driven investment strategies in infrastructure globally.

Structure and Methodology

GICCS is a four pillar multi-company classification system designed to capture the characteristics of infrastructure investments. Companies are classified on the basis of individual qualitative and quantitative criteria, including their contractual and regulatory structure; their source of revenues; and their type of industrial activity, including the complexity and level of uniqueness of the relevant infrastructure both rom a construction and an operational perspective.

How to define “Infrastructure”?

There are several ways to define what constitutes or is considered “infrastructure”.  GICCS takes multiple perspectives (e.g. OECD, World Bank, Basel-II Accord etc.) into account and uses a four-pillar multi-criteria approach that uses insights about the industrial dimension as well as financial and economics of infrastructure companies.

  1. Business-risk classification

The physical characteristics of tangible infrastructure only determine the need for long-term contracts, which in turn determine the investment profile of infrastructure investments. Outside of contractual and regulatory relationships, tangible infrastructure assets have no or little value. This is what differentiates infrastructure from other real assets. Infrastructure is never a store of value. It needs to be used to have value. Its usability is entirely determined by a combination of long-term contractual commitments. Three types of contractual arrangements are used (contracted, merchant and regulated).

  • 8 industrial-group classifications (e.g. Power Generation, Environmental Services, Social Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources, Data Infrastructure, Transport…)
  • 30 industrial classes (e.g. Pipeline Companies, Data Transmission, Defense Service)
  • 68 industrial subclasses or asset-level categories (e.g. Flood Control, Street Lighting)

2. Industrial classification

Industrial sector and subsector classifications represent specific industrial activities and types of physical assets and technologies. This classification contributes to capture essential aspects of the industrial-risk profile of infrastructure companies. Indeed, infrastructure investment requires highly specialized knowledge of various industrial processes. GICCS uses a multi-criteria classification system focusing on infrastructure-related industrial activities, as well as different degrees of complexity, size, and scale. GICCS includes the following industrial classe

3. Geo-economic classification

The type of economic activity infrastructure companies are involved in can correspond to different economic factors, creating a multitude of possible interactions between infrastructure companies. Certain infrastructure companies are exposed to the global economy (large transportation hubs). Conversely, global and regional or national infrastructure companies may be less correlated with each other even though they may be relatively close in space and have similar business models.

GICCS uses four classes of geo-economic exposure to classify infrastructure companies:

4. Corporate-Governance classification

The behavior of a firm and its managers differs depending on if it was created to develop a single project or multiple projects. External debt-financing creates monitoring mechanisms that can be expected to have a significant impact on the behavior of managers and the predictability of the firm’s activities and risk profile.

Infrastructure companies take on two corporate forms:

Learn more about the complete methodology