The CEO of the Spanish company Abertis, José Aljaro, the concessionaire owned by ACS and Mundys, the former Atlantia owned by the Benetton family and the Blackstone fund, stressed on Tuesday that the award of a project to modernise four highways in Puerto Rico is the company’s largest investment in 15 years.
“The investment that Abertis is committing to in Puerto Rico is the largest investment that has been made in the last 15 years and is the second largest we have made in the company’s history,” he said at a press conference in San Juan.
This concession includes an initial payment of 2,850 million dollars – 2,691 million euros at the current exchange rate – to the Puerto Rico Highways and Transportation Authority (ACT), which will allow this state entity to cover the payment of its debt and have capital to manage other roads, and a subsequent private capital investment of 2,370 million.
This is a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) agreement between the ACT and Abertis for a term of 40 years for the improvement, financing, repair, operation and maintenance of the PR-20, PR-52, PR-53 and PR-66 toll roads. More than 1,100 direct and indirect jobs will be created.
“Our commitment to Puerto Rico goes beyond the vision we have as a pure and simple business. We are also committed to consolidating the country as a benchmark in modernity and innovation in highway management thanks to new technologies that we are implementing on our roads”, Aljaro underlined.
An experience that can be transferred to other countries
The Abertis CEO pointed out that, in many cases, “the experiences in Puerto Rico are then replicated in other parts of the world” where the company has concessions, with the island being “a pioneer in certain technological applications”.
The new assets total 192 kilometres of highly strategic roads connecting large population areas with the San Juan metropolitan area, as well as with the south and east of the island, which Abertis will operate through Metropistas, the Spanish group’s subsidiary in Puerto Rico.
To finance the operation, as well as the acquisition of the SH-288 in Houston (Texas, United States) for 1,532 million dollars (1,446 million euros), Abertis, controlled by ACS and Mundys, will carry out a capital increase in the coming weeks with which its shareholders will contribute 1,300 million euros.
The group will also finance the operation in Puerto Rico through new bank debt and available cash.
Abertis, a world leader in the motorway sector
Aljaro recalled that Abertis, a world leader in the sector, is a group that has been in Puerto Rico for 20 years to “improve the conditions of the island’s road infrastructure and safety”.
“It is a solid commitment, ranging from the construction of the Teodoro Moscoso bridge to the management of highways PR 22 and PR 5, and this endorses us,” he commented on the company’s previous projects in Puerto Rico.
“We have demonstrated a great, efficient and quality management on the island and, thanks to this award, we will consolidate and strengthen it to continue providing a quality service” on the island, he added.
On road safety, Julián Fernández Rodes, Metropistas’ chief executive officer, said the success of the company’s management so far is “the 75 percent reduction in the incidence of fatal accidents” on its highways.
This concession involves improving signage and lighting, repairing concrete barriers and safety fences, repairing and improving the existing drainage system and the condition of slopes, installing safety cameras and dynamic message boards, and rehabilitating bridges.
Puerto Rico, a key country for the concessionaire
The press conference was attended by the governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro Pierluisi, the executive director of the Public-Private Partnerships Authority (PPPA), Fermín Fontanés, the executive director of the ACT, Edwin González, and the executive director of the Financial Advisory Authority and Fiscal Agency (AAFAF), Omar Marrero.
Pierluisi said that this agreement represents an “important step forward for the improvement of toll roads throughout the island”.
He also explained that the selection of Abertis is the result of a rigorous bidding process that began in 2022 with the goal of providing Puerto Rico with “a reliable, well-maintained and safe road system for drivers, while supporting the island’s economic growth and development”.