Spain could bail out toll road operators, including Cintra

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 3/14/2013

The Spanish government is reportedly on the verge of bailing out some of that country’s failing toll roads. The list of operators includes no less than three companies with ties to U.S. toll roads, including a major player, Cintra.

A source told Reuters this week that the Spanish government is involved in talks with operators of 10 toll roads in the Madrid area. One company is Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte – which also operates six U.S. toll road contracts in the U.S. and one in Canada.

The report said the Spanish government was attempting to get a $1.2 billion euro loan, which amounts to $1.56 billion in U.S. dollars. The report did not specify how much each operator stands to receive in the form of a bailout.

Cintra is considered one of the largest toll road developers in the world. The company entered the North American market in 1999 with a 99-year lease of the 407 Express Toll Route in Toronto, Canada.

Since then, Cintra and partner Macquarie of Australia have gobbled up the Chicago Skyway and Indiana Toll Road, and have built sections of four new toll roads in Texas, including two sections of State Highway 130 between Austin and San Antonio and two sections of the North Tarrant Express in Dallas/Fort Worth.

On March 5, Land Line reported on Cintra landing its sixth toll road concession agreement in the U.S. Read more about the agreement and the company here.

Another operator involved in the bailout talks in Spain is Abertis, a company that once bid $12.8 billion in an attempt to lease the Pennsylvania Turnpike in 2008. State lawmakers blocked legislation in committee that would have authorized the lease transaction.

A third troubled operator in Spain – ACS – is involved in two U.S. toll projects – 10 miles of Interstate 595 in Broward Country, FL, and the Mid-Currituck Bridge on State Highway 12 in North Carolina. ACS also operates Autoroute 30 in Montreal, Canada.

Toll road operators Acciona and OHL, both on the Spanish list of troubled road operators, have bid on U.S. projects but do not currently hold any concessions.

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