La société se concentre sur la logique industrielle et a pour but d'influencer la gestion des sociétés dans lesquelles elle détient des intérêts, et selon le contexte, présentera des projets de collaboration ou d'intégration.
- Abertis a clos son exercice sur de bonnes performances, à la fois en termes de continuité de stratégie d'expansion et de revenus récurrents et en hausse de ses cinq secteurs d'activité.
- Le Groupe maintient ses prévisions de croissance pour 2008 dans un contexte plus complexe, avec un plus grand discernement dans les projets et en respectant les critères de rigueur et d'analyse qui caractérisent la performance de la société.
- 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 E0.28 per share, to be paid on 11 April. The total dividend charged against 2007 earnings is E0.56, i.e. 12% higher than the 2006 dividend. Dividend payments total E357.5Mn.
- Shareholders approved a scrip issue consisting of one new share for every 20 shares, with nominal value of E3 per share, a transaction worth a total of E95.7Mn.
- 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 commitment."
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 Chile.
- 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 Pacífico.
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 3G.
- The Portuguese government's announcement of a tender for the rollout of DTT in Portugal.
- 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 E0.28 per share. The total dividend charged against 2007 earnings will be E0.56 per share, an increase of 12% from a year earlier.
The maximum dividend payout totals E357.5Mn, 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 April.
Shareholders likewise approved the traditional scrip issue consisting of one new share for every 20 old shares, with nominal value of E3 per share, a transaction worth a total of E95.7Mn.
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 E6,000Mn 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."
The abertis General Shareholders' Meeting approved the company's 2007 results, with a net consolidated profit of E682Mn, an increase of 29% from a year earlier.
Operating income reached E3,620Mn, up 9% on the previous year, while EBITDA rose 8% to E2,269Mn. Meanwhile, abertis' cash flow increased 10% on 2006 to E1,345Mn. Investment in 2007 totalled E2,141 Mn, of which E275 Mn was for operational capex and E1,866 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 committed.
" 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 France.
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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