Two Spanish firms submit offers for toll road concessions
By The Star Staff
Two prominent Spanish conglomerates are facing each other in the struggle to obtain the contract to operate four toll highways in Puerto Rico, according to Spain’s El Economista.
Abertis and a consortium that includes Spanish firm Sacyr presented their binding offers this week to obtain the contracts -- under a concession regime, to rehabilitate, maintain and operate four toll highways -- valued at almost $2 billion.
Both Abertis and Sacyr were shortlisted last year by the Public-Private Partnerships Authority (P3A) to compete in the final bid for the privatization of PR-52, between San Juan and Ponce; PR-53, between Humacao and Fajardo; PR-66, between Carolina and Río Grande; and PR-20, between San Juan and Guaynabo.
At the time, the P3A said Sacyr was participating as part of the consortium Vías de Puerto Rico with TKO Core Infrastructure Fund LP, and a to-be-formed investment fund that would be called Star America Infrastructure Partners LLC.
The P3A also shortlisted a consortium formed by the North American Plenary and the Israeli Shikun & Binui.
Abertis is already operating in Puerto Rico and Sacyr seeks to grow its concessions in North America.
“Abertis is facing an investment offensive this summer to add new assets that has already resulted in the acquisition of 56% of the SH-288 in Texas,” El Economista said. “With this privatization, Abertis seeks to strengthen its position as a highway operator in Puerto Rico, where it is already the largest shareholder, with 51% of the capital, of Metropistas, the concessionaire that operates the PR-22 and PR-5 toll roads in the country.”
If Abertis is the bidding winner, the company led by José Aljaro will have the financial support of its partners in Metropistas and the U.S. funds Ullico and Fiera Axium Infrastructure. With this, Abertis intends to facilitate the integration of the entire toll road network into a single company to gain efficiency. The plan is to lead the project with a majority stake and for Ullico and Axium to take, as in Metropistas, minority positions (28.4% and 20.6% respectively).
Meanwhile, Sacyr is trying to add a new market with Puerto Rico as an infrastructure concession operator, a priority focus of its growth strategy. The Spanish multinational was recently awarded its second concession in the United States. Specifically, in alliance with Acciona, the group has acquired a section of the I-10 highway in Louisiana.