Abertis eyes €4bn deal pipeline by 2016

Having generated €4bn in disposals over the last few years, the Spanish developer is looking to spend €700m to secure extensions to its French concessions.

After a period of consolidation, Abertis is earmarking significant capital to growing its existing business and entering new markets, it said during an institutional meeting in Paris yesterday.

The Spanish developer expects to deploy more than €2 billion for new projects by 2016 – a figure that could reach €4 billion should the company undertake these new ventures alongside external partners. This will include investments in Abertis’ existing markets, including Puerto Rico, renegotiation and extension of concessions in Brazil, Chile and France, and gaining a foothold in promising destinations, such as the US and Mexico.

It may help that the company refocused its business on toll roads and telecoms throughout the last few years, helping generate around €4 billion in cash via non-core asset disposals. These have included sales of motorway operators Atlantia and Brisa; French satellite provider Eutelsat; and Abertis’ Car Parks, Logistics and Airports units.

The proceeds have already allowed the group to make €3.8 billion worth of new investments, comprising various projects in Brazil, Puerto Rico and Chile, the purchase of Spanish satellite business Hispasat, and a vast number of mobile phone towers.

Among the transactions now being considered is an extension to the company’s concessions in France for up to six years, in exchange for a package of investments worth around €700 million. This would be part of the second Plan de Relance – the French government’s investment programme aimed at reviving the economy – and managed by Sanef, Abertis’ subsidiary in the country.

The unit’s toll road management business, Sanef ITS Technologies, has recently won contracts in London, where it will manage the largest toll in Europe, as well as Canada and the US. With 7,300 kilometres under management, Abertis is now the largest toll road operator in the world.

The last four years have also seen Abertis work on deleveraging its business, whose gearing ratio now stands at about 4.5x EBITDA. The company, rated investment grade by Standard & Poor’s and Fitch, has successfully led several bond placements in recent months.