18 Sep Elizabeth River Crossing Concession Agreement
Abertis will have control of the company, which will therefore be fully consolidated and will increase Abertis` EBITDA backlog by 13% due to its long concession term. The Elizabeth River Crossings are located in the Hampton Roads area and are one of the busiest roads in the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News metropolitan area. The concession has a residual term of 50 years, until April 2070. The asset is fully built and does not face any relevant future investment. The acquisition will be made through a consortium in which Abertis will hold a maximum of 68%, which can be reduced to at least 51%. The sales contract, concluded for a total amount of equity of approximately €1 billion, is subject to regulatory and other conditions, and the parties are working to conclude expeditiously. The management of the tunnel system was entrusted to ERC on 12 July 2012.  According to the agreement`s revenue plan, ERC is responsible for all maintenance and operation: the $2.1 billion project was carried out by Elizabeth River Crossings Opco, LLC (ERC), consisting of Skanska Infrastructure Development and Macquarie Group, on the basis of DBFOM (Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Maintain) concessions. ERC has been operating the concession for 58 years. José Aljaro, CEO of Abertis, said he was pleased with the announcement, saying that “this acquisition is another step in the Abertis Group`s ambitious growth strategy with the acquisition of a strong platform in the United States, a country that offers a strong commitment to public-private partnerships and the concession framework. We are also very pleased to launch a new partnership with John Hancock.
The agreement was possible thanks to the active support of our shareholders Atlantia, ACS and Hochtief. Manulife Investment Management, a long-term institutional investor in infrastructure, entered into the agreement on behalf of John Hancock Life Insurance Company. John Hancock is a U.S. subsidiary of Manulife and a union member of Abertis. The acquisition of this new asset in Virginia is another important step in Abertis` growth strategy in the world`s main U.S. target market, one of the world`s leading infrastructure investment markets. It is also Abertis` second major acquisition in less than a year, following the purchase of control of RCO in Mexico in June for around €5 billion, demonstrating Abertis` ability to effectively manage its concession portfolio and replace concessions that were nearing the end with new assets with strong future prospects. The agreement gave ERC the power to impose tolls on the roadway in order to guarantee private parties the money they invested in the project. Originally, ERC estimated the toll rate between $2 and $3 (for cars), but provided for the overall agreement, as tolls with rates of $1.59/non-peak hours and $1.84/peak for cars and $4.77/not peak and $7.34/peak for heavy vehicles after the infusion of VDOT and FHWA money and the additional eight years, that have been added to the concession.  However, following a public outcry over the payments, new Governor Terry McAuliffe announced a new purchase of tolls of US$82.5 million through the completion of construction. This buydown reduced tolls to 75 cents/Off Peak and $1.00/peak for light vehicles and $2.25 during peak hours or $4.00 during peak hours for heavy vehicles.
Under Gov McAuliffe`s plan, toll rates would increase by 25 cents per year by January 2017 or until the completion of the new midtown tunnel, they would return to the rates set out in the Comprehensive Agreement.   Abertis, the world leader in toll concessions, and Manulife Investment Management have entered into an agreement with Macquarie Infrastructure Partners II, a fund managed by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets and a subsidiary of Skanska AB, to acquire a 100% interest in the Elizabeth River Crossings concession in the Hampton Roads area(Virginia, United States). . . .