By on December 1, 2008

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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8 Comments on “Bailed-Out Citi Bank Goes on Toll Road Buying Binge...”

  • avatar

    This is what happens when you hand wads of government cash to irresponsible companies without demanding anything in return. I bet somebody got a nice fallout of finely laundered cash from that deal.

  • avatar

    So THIS is why I received a notification in the mail today that my Citi MasterCard that previously had no set minimum finance rate will now have a minimum finance rate of 16.99%, which is exactly six points higher than what I had earned by paying my bill (in full) on time and maintaining a good credit rating. So much for hard work and prudent spending…

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “Citi Infrastructure Partners”

    That aint the bank. Indeed the bank may simply be the general partner with a nominal investment, and collect fees for its management of the partnership.

    Jimal. Keep up the good work. Don’t run a balance on your credit card. It is a bad idea. Consider cutting the card in half and just using a debit card. That makes it harder to get into trouble.

  • avatar

    17% !

    I should take up usury. It pays better than the stock market.

  • avatar

    Us taxpayers are getting scammed by all this. Our kids and their kids are really going to suffer for this foolishness.

    Thanks Washington, and thank you Citi! (not)

  • avatar

    SPAIN? The same Spain that (as reported here yesterday) is experiencing a nearly 50% drop in new car sales and nearly 13% unemployment?

    Is there a cooling-off period for bailout dollars?

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar


    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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