28 Feb 2023
February 28th, 2023.- Abertis closed the 2022 financial year with a significant growth in traffic in the different countries where it operates. The end of mobility restrictions, once the health emergency caused by Covid-19 was overcome, has allowed to stabilize the recovery of the Group's financial and operational indicators, after more than two years conditioned by the evolution of the pandemic.
The Group closed the year with an 8.2% of traffic increase compared to 2021, and a total recovery over 2019 of 3.3%. After a year marked by the mobility recovery, strong growth is observed in light vehicles, specifically 10.1%, where it is important to highlight the solid growth in European traffic; while heavy vehicles experiences an increase of 2.1%. In this sense, light vehicles experienced a sharp drop during the pandemic, which explains the current rise in the actual context of recovery. However, heavy vehicles were more resiliently during the crisis caused by Covid-19, which explains this sustained growth once it was over. In addition, the consequences of the war in Ukraine, the global macroeconomic uncertainty and the destabilization in the price of raw materials have affected mobility in the last year too.
Abertis has closed the year with revenues of 5,102 million euros, 5.1% more than in 2021, favored by the increase in traffic that marked the recovery of this year, and despite the expiration of important concessions in Spain and Chile in 2021. On the other hand, Ebitda stood at 3,536 million euros, 5.5% and 16% on a like-for-like basis and exchange rates. In 2022, most of the contribution to the Group's Ebitda came from France (39%), followed by Mexico (14%), Chile (12%), Spain (11%), Brazil (10%) and Italy (7 %). In this sense, the good evolution of the business in the North American territory (USA and Puerto Rico) stands out, contributing already more than 5% of Ebitda.
The investment disbursed by the Group in 2022 has amounted to 818 million euros, 29% more than in 2021, mainly for improvements in the maintenance and capacity of the roads, with significant investments in France, Italy, Mexico and Brazil. Among the main projects, there stand out the improvement and extension of the network in France, mainly based on the Plan Relance and the Plan d'Investissement Autoroutier (PIA). Also the contributions to the Italian business for the 7-kilometre connection in North Brescia (Valtrompia) and the Vincenza ring road (S46), as well as the start of the works in Ramales project in Mexico for the extension, rehabilitation and construction of 3 toll-free branches, as well as the important rehabilitation of pavements and structures to improve the conditions of the road surface of the highways. Finally, another of the relevant projects was the expansion of the capacity of roads in Brazil, highlighting the pavement recovery works and the Florianópolis Contour works in Litoral Sul and the paving and expansion works in Vía Paulista. In addition, sustainability actions have been launched in all countries to advance the ESG Plan 22-24.
All these investment plans have been agreed with the different administrations and are compensated through different formulas, such as the extension of the concession contracts, among others.
The objective of Abertis is to promote the continuous improvement of its toll roads, of the maintenance activities in them and in the equipment and systems linked to the operation, as well as of the traffic, incident and emergency management plans, which guarantee more sustainable roads with excellent levels of safety and comfort.
Financial management and balance sheet
The 2022 financial year has once again demonstrated Abertis's capacity and leadership in financial innovation, allowing it to access the markets under attractive conditions. In this way, the company takes advantage of the opportunities available at all times, in order to continue extending the average life of its debt, optimize the financial cost and minimize exposure to interest rate risk.
Net debt at the year end amounted 21,809 million euros. Most of the debt is at a fixed rate (78%), which allows the Group to be protected in the current situation of rising interest rates. The Group's liquidity exceeds 8,300 million euros, which covers the debt maturities of the next 2 years.
In January 2022, the Group, through its subsidiaries in France and the United States, successfully issued two long-term bonds for 1,000 million euros and 572 million dollars at 9 and 14 years, respectively, highly oversubscribed and issued before the rise of interest rates. Both operations were used to refinance the existing debt, allow the reduction of financial costs and lengthen of the average life of the debt.
In 2022, Abertis also defined a framework that regulates the conditions under which it can be financed through financial tools linked to its ESG Plan. The establishment of this financing framework values the transparency of the Group and its effort to open sources of financing aligned with its sustainability strategy. The first issue, carried out in January 2023, was a success, raising 600 million euros with a 6-fold oversubscription.
Strong performance of Abertis Mobility Services
Abertis Mobility Services (AMS), Abertis Group technological competence center specialized in the implementation of state-of-the-art technology platforms and operational services for intelligent mobility in urban and interurban environments, finished 2022 with a very strong track record at an international level. The company managed to successfully confirm important agreements, crucial to expanding its portfolio of services and products around the world. Some of these operations included the implementation of a satellite toll program for electric and fuel-efficient vehicles in Virginia (USA); a contract extension for the collection of tolls for Halton Borough Council and the Mersey Gateway Crossings Board (United Kingdom); and the design, installation, and maintenance of the first free-flow tolling system in the Netherlands in two new tunnels to be opened in the region of Rotterdam. In addition, AMS helped with traffic control during the FIFA World Cup held in December in Qatar.
Abertis launched its new Sustainability strategy with an ambitious 2022-2030 Plan, which is based on 3-year plans with goals linked to general objectives included in the Plan. The Group has defined three strategic axes on which its Sustainability Plan is based: decarbonisation, road safety and corporate culture. Each of these pillars is associated with quantifiable and measurable initiatives that apply to each of the Abertis business units around the world.
In 2022, the Group has started the first ESG Plan corresponding to the period 2022-24. Among the sustainability actions included in this first ESG Plan, and already launched this year, the specific sustainability training for all the employees; energy efficiency actions such as the acquisition of electricity from renewable sources, the migration of fleets and the installation of electric vehicle charging points in different countries, the use of specific materials with less environmental impact, and the definition of variable compensation for executives and managers linked to sustainability performance objectives, among others.
On the other hand, this year the governance structure of the Sustainability Strategy has been consolidated, with the incorporation of the Sustainability area into the Audit and Control Committee, the creation of an agenda for the Sustainability Committee, where will be represented all functional areas of the company, and the implementation of a governance model with all business units based on the creation of a technical office to monitor the actions of this first ESG Plan.
Agreements of the Board if Directors
The Abertis’ Board of Directors, meeting today, has called the Annual General Meeting to be held on March 28 and in which, among other proposed resolutions, stands the distribution of 602 million euros to its shareholders.
The call also proposes the appointment or renewal of the members that integrates the Board, whose mandate expires this year. In this sense, the names of the directors will be made public soon.
Expected development by 2022
For 2023, the main objective is to continue growing, expanding the portfolio of concessions in those countries where the Group is currently present and in which legal certainty is guaranteed. Abertis will continue studying the different opportunities around the world that allow it to continue building a perpetual business always within the framework of financial discipline.