Marguerite bids for €1.36bn Spanish highway

The EU-focused infrastructure fund manager is in the race to build, operate and maintain a 49km stretch of the A66 highway alongside Spanish companies FCC, Sacyr and COMSA. Five other teams, one of which includes Meridiam, are also bidding for the highway.

The €1.5 billion Marguerite infrastructure fund has lodged a bid today for a €1.36 billion public-private partnership (PPP) to build, operate and maintain a stretch of Spain’s A66 highway, known as Autovia de la Plata, the first PPP project the fund is bidding for, Infrastructure Investor can exclusively reveal.

The European Union (EU), greenfield-focused infrastructure fund is bidding for the project with Spanish construction companies FCC, Sacyr and COMSA.  

The winner of the 30-year PPP contract will deliver a 49-kilometre stretch in the north of Spain, linking Benavente to Zamora, with construction costs estimated at €267 million. The private sector will not be exposed to traffic risk, since it will receive availability payments from the government. Availability payments are public contributions paid in exchange for making an asset available in good condition.

In addition to the Marguerite consortium, five other teams are bidding for Autovia de la Plata, including:

Acciona, Cintra and Meridiam;
Iridium (part of ACS), San Jose, Puentes and Inverduero;
OHL, Isolux, Elsamex, Cleop and Arcebansa;
Ortiz Sarrion, Zarzuela, CHM Cyopsa and Getinsa;
Aldesa, Copasa and Gestion Autopistas Internacionales.

The highway project is part of Spain’s €17 billion infrastructure stimulus plan, which is procuring road and rail projects – including high-speed rail – as PPPs to offset some €6.4 billion of public infrastructure funding cuts announced last year.

All the projects that form part of the stimulus package will be backed by availability payments. Traditionally, toll roads in Spain have always been exposed to traffic risk, either as real tolls or through the shadow toll system. The latter requires the Spanish authorities to pay a certain amount to the concessionaire based on the road's traffic, freeing users from paying tolls directly.

The Marguerite fund announced its first close in March 2010 with over €700 million in commitments. The fund launched late last year with €600 million in seed capital from six core sponsors – the European Investment Bank, France’s Caisse des Dépôts, Italy’s Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, Germany’s KfW, Spain’s Instituto de Crédito Oficial and Poland’s PKO Bank Polski – all state-backed banks, each having contributed €100 million to the fund.

Malta’s Bank of Valletta, Portugal’s Caixa Geral de Depósitos and the European Commission then joined the six original sponsors of the fund, with the EC contributing €80 million. 

About 65 percent of its investments will be in greenfield projects with 30 percent to 40 percent of the fund to be invested in transportation, 25 percent to 35 percent in energy and 35 to 45 percent in renewables.