A brief interruption in shortlisting a prospective adviser to examine whether privatising the Ohio Turnpike can help the Buckeye State cure its infrastructure headache ended last Friday.
Citigroup Global Markets, KPMG Corporate Finance, Public Financial Management (PFM), Macquarie Capital and Morgan Stanley each earned a right to vie for an information-gathering assignment that could lead to a recommendation to lease operation of the 241-mile turnpike.
The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) had planned to reveal its shortlist on September 3, but postponed reaching a final verdict until September 23 amid a flood of private sector interest. BMO Capital Markets, Greenhill & Co., Ice Miller, Lazard Freres & Co., Moelis & Co., RBC Capital Markets, Steel Jackson Consulting, UBS Investment Bank and William Blair & Co. also expressed interest in advising on the project.
Ohio is eager to find out if privatising the turnpike might generate enough revenue to improve infrastructure state-wide. Governor John Kasich has estimated Ohio could rake in $2.5 billion from leasing the thoroughfare and then use that income to finance “desperately” needed infrastructure work. According to Kasich, Ohio is running out of money to fix its infrastructure.
An ODOT spokesman pointed out how, in addition to leasing the Ohio Turnpike, the eventual recommendation might suggest entering into a public-private partnership or urge the state to keep the turnpike public. The Ohio Turnpike is a toll road capable of generating an approximate $230 million in annual revenue.
The spokesman told Infrastructure Investor each adviser named on the shortlist will present their case to ODOT in November, with ODOT expecting to select a winner that month.