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Abertis pledges €3.4bn investment drive in 2017

The firm has high hopes for the French market as it agrees two deals with insurance companies worth up to €1.2bn.

Spanish toll road operator Abertis has outlined a spending plan for this year that will see it invest at least €3.4 billion.

The plan unveiled at the company’s general shareholders' meeting represents a 30.7 percent increase on the €2.6 billion the firm invested in 2016. Chairman Salvador Alemany said the group was in a position to ramp up spending following a “good year” in which EBITDA rose by 20 percent to €3.2 billion.

Abertis said it will continue its participation in PPP projects as well as looking out for potential new acquisitions. Last week, it bought a further 15 percent – which could rise to 17 percent – in the holding company of French motorway firm Sanef. Abertis will pay the France-based insurance company Predica €700 million, a fee that could extend to €800 million depending on the final acquisition level.

Abertis has also closed a €450 million deal with AXA Republique for the insurance firm’s 9.65 percent stake in Sanef, bringing its total ownership of the company to 90 percent. Alongside its €491 million acquisition from Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations in the business in January, Abertis has now spent over €1.6 billion on Sanef this year.

“This transaction increases the average length of the group's concessions and ensures a greater flow of cash and dividends from France, which will help offset the impact of some concessions in other countries concluding over the coming years,” Abertis said at the shareholders’ meeting.

“This transaction strengthens Abertis's growth strategy in robust countries with stable frameworks for concessions and a clear commitment to public-private partnerships in the toll road sector. France offers significant opportunities for value creation in the future through agreements with the government for new investments in exchange for extending the length of concessions or toll increases, in line with those reached in recent years.”

Some 75 percent of the company’s revenue is now generated outside its native Spain. Last year saw it buy two toll roads in India and a further two in Italy. It also received a €495 million investment from the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority in October for a 20 percent share in its Chilean business.