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Odebrecht sells stake in Peruvian toll road

Brookfield Infrastructure has agreed to buy a 57% stake in Rutas de Lima from Odebrecht as the Brazilian construction company seeks to increase liquidity.

Odebrecht, a developer embroiled in Brazil’s far-reaching corruption scandal, has agreed to sell a 57 percent stake in a 115km Peruvian toll road that comprises three main routes to and from the capital, to Toronto-based Brookfield Infrastructure.

Odebrecht, through its subsidiary Odebrecht Latinvest, retains a 25 percent stake in Rutas de Lima, while the remaining 18 percent is held by Peruvian asset manager Sigma, according to a statement issued by the Brazilian company. The deal involves a 30-year concession operating and maintaining the Panamericana Norte, Panamericana Sur and Ramiro Prialé routes. It expires in 2043.

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Odebrecht Latinvest, which the Brazilian construction company launched in 2012, invests in highways, rapid transit and pipelines, in Latin America and operates concessions developed or acquired by the Odebrecht Group.

Asked whether the company would divest its three other concessions – IIRSA North and South Highways in Peru and Ruta del Sol highway in Colombia – the company said it did not. 

The sale comes just two months after Odebrecht president Newton Souza announced that the company would seek to divest assets worth 12 billion reais ($3.7 billion; €3.3 billion) in order to free up liquidity. The company, which is the largest construction company in Latin America, has found itself in the middle of Brazil’s “Operation Car Wash” scandal, involving allegations that a group of companies systematically overcharged state oil company Petróleo Brasileiro (Petrobras) and then funneled that money to Petrobras executives. After being accused of participating in the scheme, Marcelo Odebrecht, Odebrecht’s former chief executive, was arrested last year and sentenced to 19 years in prison. He has appealed the decision.

It is unclear whether Brookfield will finance the investment, its first in Peruvian infrastructure, through Brookfield Infrastructure Fund III, a vehicle it is in the process of raising. Originally targeting $10 billion, Brookfield raised its hard cap to $14 billion in April, when it disclosed it had already raised $11.8 billion. That put it just $200 million short of its original hard-cap.

Other assets Odebrecht has said it will look to divest include a hydroelectric plant in Peru, wind energy assets in the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, an oil block stake and a stake in a diamond mine in Angola.

Last April, Infrastructure Investor also reported that buyers were interested in Odebrecht’s stake in a Peruvian pipeline. According to local media, Brookfield is among those interested in a 55 percent stake in the Gasoducto Sur Peruano pipeline.

Brookfield declined to comment beyond Odebrecht’s statement.