Public interest investor
Every year, Caisse des Dépôts devotes a third of its profits to public service investments. These investments, made with equity capital, support the development policies launched by local authorities and public sector actors.
Caisse des Dépôts mainly operates in sectors associated with the priorities laid out in its strategic plan: housing and real estate, urban renewal, universities and the knowledge economy, public infrastructures, digital technologies, renewable energies, creation of very small and small enterprises.
Caisse des Dépôts' investments focus on real estate projects designed to aid development of a neighbourhood or local area: housing, shops, businesses, medico-social projects, urban leisure and tourism. Caisse des Dépôts also works to develop eco-neighbourhoods which satisfy sustainable development criteria
The initiatives supported, aimed as a matter of priority at sensitive populations and areas, systematically take sustainable development criteria into consideration and are implemented in the framework of rigorous rules.
Rigorous investment rules
"As a public service investor, Caisse des Dépôts is legally entitled to act, either because of the nature of its actions which support public policies or develop immature markets, or because of the specific nature of its financial criteria, accepting a longer investment period or higher risks. Its investments must comply with competition rules and it must act as a sensible investor". Augustin de Romanet, 19 June 2008.
Caisse des Dépôts takes a financial approach to its public service investments which sets it apart from other investors. The specific and original nature of its business model mean that it can better take into consideration the added "societal" value of its actions.
Its financial criteria include:
-a capacity for long-term projection, which can create room for the acceptance of differed profitability;
-more moderate risk premiums, which mean that investments can be financed where the return to risk ratio differs from the ratio required by conventional investors, because they have a business model which is more risk-averse and/or more focused on the short-term;
-a sometimes lower concern for liquidity than the rest of the market, as Caisse des Dépôts is more focused on the continual enhancement of its portfolio than on its capacity to immediately switch its assets.
Caisse des Dépôts's public service investments operate in the strict framework of compliance with law and competition rules. They are made in compliance with European rules and are declared to Community authorities wherever necessary. This means that Caisse des Dépôts acts as a "sensible investor" which respects market forces, and that it ensures that it does not favour any actor over another when acting on the basis of an explicit public mandate which leads it to invest "outside the market". When its public service investments are made at the request of government authorities, it makes them in the framework of a contractual arrangement which stipulates the shared goals to be achieved.