France's deficit takes a toll

Operators of French toll road concessions convened an urgent meeting with France's Prime Minister Manuel Valls in October amid concerns that they would be slapped with additional taxes as the country seeks to reduce its deficit.

The meeting was reportedly attended by Pierre Coppey, chairman of French motorways association ASFA and chief operating officer of Vinci, France's largest concessions company.

Vinci was among a number of developers whose share prices came under pressure as a result of the reports.

The prospect of such a levy was raised by Environment Minister Segolene Royal, who had earlier this year sought a tax on heavy trucks – but this was defeated in the face of strong opposition from truckers.

However, Finance Minister Michel Sapin appeared to pour cold water on the latest plan when he said that the concession contracts would entitle the operators to compensation.

Furthermore, according to media reports, the operators have threatened to abandon €3.2 billion worth of motorway upgrades to French motorways which were recently given the green light by the European Commission.