* German strategy shift to trigger infrastructure spending
* Sees oil price in $90-120 range next year
By Christoph Steitz
FRANKFURT, Dec 12 The need for power grid
expansion will be a boon for infrastructure companies in the
coming years, according to fund managers at BlackRock, the
world's biggest money manager.
"We are very bullish on energy infrastructure," Alastair
Bishop told Reuters. "The need for investments in the area of
energy infrastructure will be one of the clearest themes in the
next three years and beyond."
Bishop is a member of BlackRock's Natural Resources Equity
team, which, among others, manages the BGF World Energy
and BGF New Energy funds.
Rising investments for energy infrastructure have already
attracted companies such as U.S.-based Quanta Services,
which installs and maintains infrastructure for electric and gas
utilities, one of the top holdings in the New Energy fund.
The New Energy fund -- a fifth of which is invested in
stocks in the area of renewable energy and infrastructure --
also holds shares in power transmission firm ITC Holdings
Billions of euros of investments are needed to build, expand
and maintain existing power grids in the next decades, above all
in Europe's top economy Germany, which last year decided to pull
out of nuclear energy.
A study by Deutsche Energie Agentur (Dena) released on
Tuesday suggested that up to 42.5 billion euros ($55.3 billion)
of investment is required on distribution infrastructure until
To also benefit from companies active in the oil sector,
BlackRock's $3-billion World Energy fund has put a heavy focus
on exploration and production firms, with a strong overweight in
this area compared to its benchmark, the MSCI World Energy NR
The fund counts oil heavyweights Chevron Corp, Exxon
Mobil and BP among its top holdings but manager
Robin Batchelor said uncertainty over oil prices would continue
to dominate the sector next year.
"There are many moving parts, for example Iran, where it is
unclear how production will develop next year," Batchelor, who
is also joint chief investment officer of BlackRock's Natural
Resources Equity team, said.
Iran, one of the world's largest oil suppliers, on Wednesday
said it would prefer OPEC adopt a much lower 28-million
barrel-a-day oil output target but was happy for now to back an
unchanged cartel target of 30 million bpd.
Due to ongoing uncertainty over supply and demand next year,
Batchelor said he expects Brent crude oil prices to move
in a range of $90-120 per barrel next year, compared with a
($1 = 0.7693 euros)
(Editing by Keiron Henderson)