ACS Sells 74% Of Its Six ‘Shadow Toll’ Motorways In Spain For €950 M

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ACS has closed the sale of 74% of its stake in a batch of six tranches of ‘shadow toll’ highways in Spain to the Hermes fund. The operation was agreed last November and will generate a capital gain of 40 million euros for the infrastructure firm.

The group chaired by Florentino Pérez will keep the remaining 26% of its share in the highways, which it will also continue to manage. Their total and joint value amounts to 950 million euros.

The sale is part of ACS’ strategy of continuous rotation of mature assets to generate resources for new projects. As the contract signing coincides with the current crisis, it will provide the group with a new injection of funds.

The motorways in which Hermes has taken a stake are the following: two in Catalonia (Eje Diagonal and Reus-Alcover), one in Castilla la Mancha (Autovía de la Mancha), one in Castilla y León (Autovía de los Pinares), one in Navarra (Autovía del Pirineo) and the final one in Galicia (Santiago-Brion).

ACS was awarded a contract to invest in improving or expanding these highways. It now recovers this investment by receiving an annual payment from the Administration for the operation and maintenance of the infrastructures. In this way, these motorways become free of direct payment for the users.

When ACS agreed to the transaction it said the investment associated with these six motorways is 1.1 billion euros. They still have an average concession period of around 19 years.

The firm’s stake in each of the concessions, which total 234 kilometres in length, ranges from 63.3% for the Autovía de los Pinares to 100% for the two Catalan roads.

ACS’ sale of the majority of these motorways’ capital was agreed in November 2019. At that point, the closure of the deal was subject to the corresponding authorisations being obtained.

So the sale and purchase of three of them (the Eje Diagonal, the Reus-Alcover and the Autovía del Pirineo) was completed on January 29, after the afore-mentioned authorisations were received. These have now been obtained for the sale of the remaining three highways, which was completed on Tuesday April 28.

Similar divestments

The sale agreement closed by ACS on these routes last November followed other similar operations formalized months earlier.

In July last year, Ferrovial sold 65% of Ausol, the Costa del Sol highway that links Malaga and Guadiaro (Cadiz) to the Meridiam fund. Subsequently, in October, Sacyr sold 47.5% of the capital of the AP-46 Alto de las Pedrizas-Málaga to the fund Aberdeen Infrastructure.

In ACS’ case, it is making this disinvestment in its concessions portfolio a little over a year after completing the takeover of motorway firm Abertis, in collaboration with Italy’s Atlantia. They aim to promote Abertis as a world leader in infrastructures.

That said, ACS is already one of the world’s leading concession groups, through its own concessions subsidiary Iridium. It has a total of fifty concessions in North America, Latin America and Europe.