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Abertis maintains its commitment to international growth and diversification based on the principles of discernment, rigour and long-term commitment



2008-04-01 07:55:00

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

EUR 95.7Mn.

– 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

business indicators.”

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

and complex.”

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

in Madrid.

– 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

industrial partner.”

“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

financial stakes.”

“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.”

Annual accounts

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.


Tel. +34 93 230 50 84

Tel. +34 93 230 50 94

[email protected]

Relaciones con Inversores

Inv. Institucionales y analistas

Tel. +34 93 230 51 26/ 50 57

Oficina del Accionista Tel. 902 30 10 15

[email protected]

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