Although recent reports are casting doubt that the toll road
investments of Macquarie Infrastructure Group of Australia are guaranteed to be
a raging long-term success, current profits are another story. It is no
surprise that the self-proclaimed world's largest infrastructure investor is
currently increasing its bottom line through investments that include U.S. toll roads.
Shelling out billions of dollars in the last two years to
lease the Chicago Skyway for $1.83 billion and the Indiana Toll Road for $3.85
billion had Macquarie investors up in arms and low on dividends, but the
company has bounced back in recent months according to The Australian
Shares in Macquarie Infrastructure Group rose from $2.61
(Australian dollars) in July to a recent mark of $3.68, The Australian
Making shareholders money is part of what the parent company,
Macquarie Bank, is all about, despite one Australian professor's study that
shows the investor is not as stable as it is reported to be.
A report of nearly $600 million in profits being reported in
the last six months was released earlier in November, about the same time as an
academic report from John Goldberg of Sydney showed that the investor's
financing methods relied on shifting debts from one category to another to
But even with that going on, Macquarie is reportedly interested
in a long-term lease of the New Jersey Turnpike and Pennsylvania Turnpike,
should deals for privatization become available.
"We think the U.S. is going to be the biggest market for
what we do," CEO Stephen Allen said, quoted in The Australian.
Macquarie conducted a feasibility study for the New Jersey
Turnpike, valuing a private lease at about $20 billion.
Security holders with Macquarie Infrastructure Group
recently approved the sale of 50-percent assets in the Chicago Skyway, Indiana Toll Road, Dulles Greenway in Virginia and South Bay Expressway in San Diego to
Macquarie Infrastructure Partners - a U.S.-based publicly traded firm in New York.
The sale of assets to a U.S.-based firm helps the company
"Americanize" according to Allen in previous press reports, to get away from
the stigma attached to "foreign investor."
The company is waiting to see whether the Pennsylvania
Turnpike, New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Expressway and/or the Atlantic City
Expressway become available for bidding and an eventual private lease.
Other investment groups like Goldman Sachs, the Carlyle
Group, Credit Suisse, General Electric and UBS are also reportedly interested
in the U.S. toll-road market, The Australian reported, and Land Line
reported last year that a Spanish-Italian investor called Abertis is also
interested in U.S. toll roads.