Bailed-Out Citi Bank Goes on Toll Road Buying Binge

The Newspaper
by The Newspaper
bailed out citi bank goes on toll road buying binge

On November 23, the U.S. Treasury announced it had “invested” $20b in Citigroup in addition to “protection against the possibility of unusually large losses” on $306b in bad debt. Just one week after receiving support from U.S. taxpayers, Citigroup announced it will spend $10b to acquire a debt-laden Spanish toll road group. Citi Infrastructure Partners will hand over $3.6b in cash and assume $6.3b in debt from Sacyr Vallehermoso, the parent company of the Intinere Infraestructuras toll road group. Itinere operates 32 toll roads in Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Portugal, Spain and Ireland. Another twelve concessions are under construction. Sacyr today issued a statement to Spanish investors noting that the company succeeded in offloading 37 percent of its total debt to the U.S. firm. “With this transaction, the group reaps the value that Itinere accumulated for its mature concession assets and strengthens its financial situation by considerably reducing its indebtedness,” the statement explained.

In the immediate term, Citigroup will sell off Itinere’s stakes in five Spanish and Chilean toll roads to Spanish tolling giant Abertis, allowing that company to assume full ownership of its tolling assets. The deal is valued at $786m.

Other analysts, including Fitch Ratings, view tolling as a risky investment. Toll road volumes have plummeted in response to the recent spikes in gasoline prices and the global economic slowdown. In August, Fitch issued a warning that its outlook on tolling had changed to “negative,” reflecting a dim view of the creditworthiness of the long-term transactions.

In October, Citigroup and Abertis gave up on their joint bid to collect tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The consortium spent millions bankrolling a slick public relations campaign that ultimately failed to sway public opinion on the wisdom of the 75-year proposal.

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  • Forraymond Forraymond on Dec 02, 2008

    The last HOORAH (I pray) for this Adminstration and its' cronies. It amazes me that the money changers have no strings attached to the billions given to them from our pockets, yet Detroit is having to jump through hoops. Not that I expect Detroit to do any better with a handout, but at least some jobs will be saved until the economy picks up.

  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Dec 02, 2008

    forraymond, I am against all the bailouts (I thought it might work to buy up distressed mortgage assets, but that's a lot different than loans). Still, your post is off base. First, your snipe at the administration and their "cronies" needs some backing up with facts. Which "cronies"? Second, could you detail the "no strings attached" billions that have been given out? We all want to hear about that, and are unaware of it. Third, do banks not have employees? Last, what's the point in saving a job if it isn't providing any value, or it is losing us money? Might as well put those folks on unemployment or welfare, no? Sorry to pick on you, but if no one ever speaks up, this will turn into yet another useless sound off board.

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