ABERTIS INFRAESTRUCTURAS, S.A.
Abertis maintains its commitment to international growth and diversification based on the principles of discernment, rigour and long-term commitment
BARCELONA, SPAIN–( EMWNews – April 1, 2008) – 01/04/08
The company focuses on industrial rationale and aims to influence the management
of companies in which it holds stakes, and, if circumstances permit, move toward
partnership or merger projects
– abertis enjoyed a record year in 2007, in both the continuity of its expansion
strategy and in terms of its recurring (and rising) income at its five business
– The group maintains its 2008 forecast for growth in a more complex environment
requiring a more discerning approach to projects, and will continue to use the
rigorous and analytical criteria which have characterised its performance to
– abertis will continue to make industrial investment a priority, using a long-
term investment horizon and directly participating in management.
– Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Chile, Mexico, Brazil, the
United States and an expanded Europe are markets to which abertis will give
priority when analysing business opportunities.
– Shareholders approved payment of a gross final dividend of EUR 0.28 per share,
to be paid on 11 April. The total dividend charged against 2007 earnings is EUR
0.56, i.e. 12% higher than the 2006 dividend. Dividend payments total EUR
– Shareholders approved a scrip issue consisting of one new share for every 20
shares, with nominal value of EUR 3 per share, a transaction worth a total of
– abertis Chairman Isidre Fainé highlighted the stability and strength of the
company’s group of core shareholders, after Criteria Caixa Corp and ACS
increased their stakes.
Barcelona, 1 April 2008. abertis group maintains for 2008 its growth forecast
and strategy of international expansion and diversification, analysing potential
business opportunities using criteria of discernment, rigour and long-term
commitment in its investments. This was reiterated today by abertis Chairman
Isidre Fainé and Chief Executive Officer Salvador Alemany at the abertis General
Shareholders’ Meeting held in Barcelona.
In this regard, Isidre Fainé pointed out that abertis “is committed to ongoing
growth based on the principles of prudence, analysis and a sense of reality,”
and listed a series of countries to be considered in the study of possible
business opportunities: Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, the United Kingdom,
Chile, Mexico, Brazil, the United States and the countries making up the
expanded European Union.
Along the same lines, abertis CEO Salvador Alemany assured shareholders that “we
are committed to growth in a market that continues to present opportunities,
though we will be more discerning, looking for projects which have higher
capital requirements and thus lower debt; and also likely more reasonable
prices, and possibly fewer competitors, but in a market which is competitive as
ever.””If we maintain our growth forecast, it’s because in the current
environment it is necessary to use not more prudence than we had already been
using, but rather the same: the same rigour, the same discernment and the same
Both Isidre Fainé and Salvador Alemany stressed that, after abertis consolidated
its international presence in 2006 with the addition of the French toll road
concessionaire sanef, in 2007 the group “confirmed and enhanced a trajectory
shaped by a capacity for expansion and by the remarkable growth of all of our
According to the abertis CEO, “the strength of 2007 earnings and our constant
attention to identifying and pinning down expansion opportunities allow us to
maintain our growth forecasts in an environment that is doubtless more uncertain
Abertis: global player with a networked business project
The growth abertis registered in 2007, which comes on top of the projects
consolidated in the past three years, “confirms our position as a global
player,” said the abertis chairman, who added that “the abertis project is an
integrator, in a world which lacks a defined geographic centre, a business
project which, in the same way as infrastructure, is built in a network and
operates in a network.”
As part of an overview of abertis’ expansion in 2007, Isidre Fainé made
reference to the following transactions:
– Eutelsat and Hispasat, in the telecommunications business.
– Acquisition of the airport holding company DCA.
– In the car parks business, saba undertook new projects in Rome and Santiago de
– The acquisition of new logistics parks in Madrid and Barcelona, and the new
project in Santiago de Chile, in the logistics division.
– In toll roads, a project headed by sanef to implement a dynamic toll system on
the Dublin ring road.
Turning to 2008, within the toll road sector, he mentioned a project to acquire
ACS’ stakes in Chilean toll road operators Autopista Central and Rutas del
Future projects: profitability and improvement in concessions
The abertis CEO returned to this message of growth, this time looking ahead to
future projects. Salvador Alemany reiterated that “in a business like that of
abertis, with an extensive range of concessions, growth primarily means
improving (prolonging) the average life of our assets.”
The following are highlights of projects the company is currently studying:
– In the US, the privatisation of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, an 800-kilometre
toll road that stretches across the state of Pennsylvania from east to west.
– Also in the US, the privatisation of Chicago Midway airport.
– In Chile, the sale by Bancomex of two toll road operators.
– In Italy, the sale of 18,500 mobile telephone masts by the carriers Wind and
– The Portuguese government’s announcement of a tender for the rollout of DTT in
– In Spain, a tender for the construction and operation of the new R1 toll road
– Privatisation of toll roads in Turkey. A total of 1,500km in the area between
Istambul and Ankara, and bridges on the Bosphorus.
– The possible privatisation of the Prague airport.
Investments with an industrial focus
Over the course of the General Shareholders Meeting, executives mentioned the
Atlantia merger project, highlighting its strategic rationale and an industrial
logic “which remain fully intact,” said Isidre Fainé. “The fact that the merger
proposal unanimously approved two years ago was unable to come to fruition due,
in our opinion, to the inappropriate intervention of the Italian government,
does not mean that we have given up seeking a clear and explicit statement from
Brussels on what was done wrong in this process and on who failed to act
properly,” said Salvador Alemany.
“From the standpoint of our strategy as a group, we have closed a chapter on
Atlantia,” reiterated Salvador Alemany. “From the industrial rationale which
justified keeping our stake in Atlantia, we will switch to a financial
rationale; that is, we will maintain our stake depending upon the priorities of
our balance sheet, the performance of the share price and the expansion projects
we may have under study at any given time.
” On this issue, the abertis CEO reflected on the rationale of the company’s
investments, stressing that they must “make sense in industrial terms and cannot
be limited to mere financial investments; for this reason we wish to participate
in the management of the companies in which we hold stakes, maintaining
controlling stakes or as the largest shareholder, and always as the reference
“A minority stake only makes sense, in the long term, if we have expectations of
working more closely together, and if necessary, carrying out a merger; as time
goes on, if we determine that it will be impossible to move in that direction,
we would have to react and sell the stake if necessary,” said the abertis CEO.
General Shareholders Meeting Resolutions
The abertis General Shareholders’ Meeting approved a gross final dividend
payable against 2007 earnings of EUR 0.28 per share. The total dividend charged
against 2007 earnings will be EUR 0.56 per share, an increase of 12% from a year
The maximum dividend payout totals EUR 357.5Mn, an increase of 17.6% from 2006,
accounting for the 5% increase in the number of shares as a result of the
company’s scrip issue. The company expects the final dividend to be paid on 11
Shareholders likewise approved the traditional scrip issue consisting of one new
share for every 20 old shares, with nominal value of EUR 3 per share, a
transaction worth a total of EUR 95.7Mn.
Meanwhile, abertis shareholders approved re-electing to another five-year term
as board members the following executives: Isidre Fainé Casas, Salvador Alemany
Mas, Enrique Corominas Vila, Ángel García Altozano, Ernesto Mata López, Enric
Mata Tarragó, Ramon Pascual Fontana and Dragados S.A.
Shareholders also authorised the Board of Directors to issue, in one or several
operations and at any time within a maximum period of five years, notes, bonds
and other fixed-income securities, simple, exchangeable or convertible, for a
maximum of EUR 6,000Mn or the equivalent in other currencies.
Finally, abertis shareholders authorised the Board to continue the loyalty plan
and employee access to Group stock programme, whose first phase was approved by
the Shareholders Meeting of 13 June 2007.
Stock Market Performance
The abertis chairman discussed the performance of abertis shares in 2007, noting
that it was “stable in a volatile environment,” and pointed out that abertis’
accumulated return in the past three years totals nearly 60%. For the eighth
consecutive year, abertis closed the year in the black with a 2.84% gain,
adjusted for the scrip issue.
Isidre Fainé also expressed his conviction that, independently of the somewhat
volatile market situation, “abertis shares have upside potential,” which he
attributed to “analysis of the soundness of the company’s balance sheet, the
tangible results of our expansion process, the investment potential stemming
from our cash flow generation, and the capacity afforded us by some of our
“Stocks like abertis that are solid and resistant to the crisis have a dual
profile: they are generators of capital gains for those investors who from time
to time may need them, and also represent a good opportunity for investors with
cash who are in search of stocks that are strong, profitable and offer upside
potential,” added abertis’ chairman.
Isidre Fainé, referring to recent increases in stakes in Criteria Caixa Corp and
ACS, as well as the purchase of 1.5% of its own treasury stock, placed special
emphasis on “the stability and solidity of our core shareholder group.””We
especially value our core shareholders’ commitment to stability and their long-
term vision,” said Isidre Fainé. “We have no doubt that this is a deciding
factor in the strength and continuity of the trajectory the company has followed
in recent years.”
The abertis General Shareholders’ Meeting approved the company’s 2007 results,
with a net consolidated profit of EUR 682Mn, an increase of 29% from a year
Operating income reached EUR 3,620Mn, up 9% on the previous year, while EBITDA
rose 8% to EUR 2,269Mn. Meanwhile, abertis’ cash flow increased 10% on 2006 to
EUR 1,345Mn. Investment in 2007 totalled EUR 2,141 Mn, of which EUR 275 Mn was
for operational capex and EUR 1,866 Mn for expansion capex.
“The consolidation perimeter changed very little in 2007 vs. 2006, since
transactions like the Eutelsat purchase are accounted for by the equity method,
while the acquisitions of DCA, the Hispasat stake and the Chilean toll roads
will not have an impact until 2008,” said abertis Chairman Isidre Fainé.
Isidre Fainé emphasised “the excellent recurring performance of all of the five
business areas” within abertis. In this sense, the chairman deemed as
“absolutely necessary” good management of daily operations and the company’s
organic growth, “in order to maintain a sustainable expansion strategy that is
in accordance with the shareholder compensation targets to which we feel
” In turn, abertis CEO Salvador Alemany pointed to cash flow generation as “a
clear indicator of our strength,” and remarked that in 2007, “the foundations of
our growth lie not solely in expansion, but primarily in the soundness and
recurring nature of our business divisions’ principal indicators.””2007 allowed
us to put a value on and capitalise on the expansion process of recent years,”
said the abertis CEO.
Salvador Alemany likewise highlighted efforts made in 2007 to “keep our exposure
to financial risk at a minimum,” which allowed the company to end the year with
83% of its debt at fixed rates and 91% of it long term. The abertis CEO noted
that abertis’ debt/EBITDA ratio (5.5x) in 2007 and ability to maintain its
single A rating from Fitch and Standard & Poor’s, constitute elements “which
acknowledge the soundness of our balance sheet and efficient debt structure.”
CSR, leadership and values
abertis Chairman Isidre Fainé made reference to the group’s main efforts in
sustainability and the environment, safeguarding cultural heritage, road safety
awareness campaigns and active cooperation with the academic world.
Isidre Fainé expressed satisfaction at the effort made in this area, adding that
“indicators such as the A+ ranking the Global Reporting Initiative awarded to
our CSR report for another year or maintaining our listing on the selective Dow
Jones Sustainability Index” recognise abertis’ practices from an economic,
social and environmental perspective.
He also placed particular emphasis on the group’s work with the academic world,
and said that this area “for us is especially significant, because we feel
comfortable providing spaces for investigation, debate and reflection.” A new
abertis chair in transport and infrastructure economics at the Fundación de
Estudios de Economía Aplicada (FEDEA) in 2007 joined chairs in mobility and
transport at UPC, in leadership at ESADE, and in regulation and competition at
IESE, said the abertis chairman. Isidre Fainé also mentioned that abertis joined
the Institut Montaigne, one of the most prestigious “idea laboratories” in
The chairman informed shareholders at the meeting that in 2008, abertis will
occupy the presidency of the Corporate Reputation Forum, and in particular
highlighted this organisation’s initiatives such as subscribing to the United
Nations Global Pact on responsible globalisation and a campaign to raise
awareness of the UN’s eight millennium objectives.
Furthermore, Isidre Fainé explained that abertis’ commitment to the community
and the fabric of society is carried out through various platforms, such as the
abertis foundation, where more than a third of the company’s investment in the
community is concentrated. The foundation promotes research on the effect of
infrastructure, the environment, demographics, and the economy – in cooperation
with universities, business schools and think tanks – and manages a broad-based
road safety programme.
The abertis chairman also put particular emphasis on the group’s leadership
policy and values as the cornerstones of a “permanent challenge” which abertis
is setting for itself in terms of management in recent years, characterised by
an intense foreign expansion and diversification process. “We must be able to
strike a balance between a form of management that has to be predictable and
ensures that we meet our business targets, and a vision that gives us direction
and keeps us alert and willing to take advantage of opportunities that may
arise,” said Isidre Fainé.
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