Barcelona/Bologna, 10 October 2017
Catalexit: a portion of Abertis’ Spanish portfolio could be affected under an independence scenario
CRIF Ratings (CRIF) highlights that two concession agreements (Acesa and Invicat), accounting for c.35% of kilometers managed by Abertis in Spain, will expire on 31st August 2021. The 545 kilometers managed under these two concessions are located in Catalonia. In case of an independence declaration in Catalonia (for further details on CRIF’s analysis please click here), the extension of these concessions represents a mid-term uncertainty.
“The re-domiciling of Abertis’ HQ, from Barcelona to Madrid, has probably helped to keep volatility relatively under control since the referendum vote. However, given Abertis’ current corporate momentum, with a formal offer from Atlantia and a potential counterbid by ACS (rated BB+/Positive Outlook by CRIF), the expiration of more than one third of the group’s EBITDA in Spain could be a question mark for investors”- says Borja Monforte, Head of International Operations at CRIF Ratings. Abertis generated a EUR3.2bn consolidated EBITDA in FY16 including the Spanish operations which contributed with EUR1.1bn. “In absence of accurate figures on the EBITDA generated by these two concessions, CRIF Ratings estimates, on the basis of an assumed proportion of kilometers operated by Acesa and Invicat, that around EUR350-400m of annual EBITDA could be at risk under a scenario of a Catalan independence. The Catalan portfolio contributes 11.5% of Abertis’ consolidated EBITDA”- adds Monforte.
CRIF acknowledges that this is a mid-term uncertainty but can have an impact in light of the corporate transactions in which Abertis is currently involved. The non-extension of the concessions should be offset by Abertis’ proven ability to replace expired concessions. In addition, Abertis has significantly reduced its exposure to Spain over the last 6 years (in 2011, Spain’s backlog was around 41% compared to 19% in 2017).
Under a scenario of independence of Catalonia, the Catalan government could either nationalize these long dated toll roads concessions (both were awarded in 1967) or opt for a revised version of the agreement. CRIF Ratings notes that the nationalization scenario is highly likely even under a normalization of the situation in Catalonia and Spain.
Toll roads under concession managed by Acesa account for 479 kilometers (AP-7 and AP-2 toll roads) and the agreement was signed with the Spanish Central Government (through the ‘Ministerio de Fomento’). Invicat manages 66 kilometers of toll roads (C-32, C-31 and C-33 toll roads) and the concession agreement was signed with the Catalan Regional Government.