The intention of the president of ACS, Florentino Pérez, to acquire Autostrade per l’Italia (Aspi), the largest motorway operator in Italy, and create a platform in the world with Abertis has been definitively blurred after the board of directors of Atlantia signed yesterday the acceptance of the offer issued by the public bank CDP, the Australian fund Macquarie and the American manager Blackstone.
Now, the Spanish infrastructure group, which failed to present a binding proposal for Aspi, has to find a destination for the nearly 5,000 million euros that it will initially receive from the sale of the bulk of its industrial services business to the Vinci gala.
Pérez and his team have ruled out the delivery of an extraordinary dividend for the divestment of their industrial area and have remarked that their objective is to invest in assets that strengthen their growth, with the priority focus on transport infrastructures and, very especially, on the freeways.
The also president of Real Madrid wants to “expand our exposure to the concessions business by taking advantage of investment opportunities in transport infrastructures, mainly highways,” he said at the ACS shareholders meeting last May.
“The group is studying the acquisition of alternative highway concessions to Aspi”
Already then Pérez slipped the difficulties to acquire Aspi . Thus, it opened the door to other opportunities that are in the market or that may arise. “The group is studying the acquisition of alternative highway concessions to Aspi,” Pérez said.
The highway market is at a time of impasse in the face of the blow that the pandemic has caused in its traffic at a global level. Aspi’s is one of the few operations, of a certain importance, that there is right now in the world in a segment in which, in addition, it has starred in very significant corporate movements in recent years.
This is the case of the purchase of Abertis by Atlantia and ACS itself and of the Portuguese Brisa by APG, NPS and Swiss Life AM. Globalvia also bought more than 40% of Itínere, Abertis last year sealed the takeover of Red de Autopistas de Occidente (RCO), in Mexico, and Elizabeth River Crossing, in the United States, and Ardian and Gavio created ASTM. In America, investment funds have gained positions in countries such as the United States, Mexico,
Precisely the main urban highway in Sydney is one of the few options that currently exist for ACS in the brownfield market (in operation), since the public company Sidney Motorway Corporation (SMC) has put up for sale the 49% it retains Although Transurban, which has already shown its interest, starts with an advantage. However, it is expected that in the coming months, once the recovery is consolidated, new opportunities will emerge.
Many more investment alternatives in highways exist in the greenfield market (construction and operation), where ACS has located more than 150 projects for 250,000 million euros in Australia (36%), United States (23%), Canada (20%) and Europe (19%).