- In 2015 extraordinary impacts affected the Group:
- €4,378Mn revenues, like-for-like EBITDA rose 5%.
- Traffic increases in Spain (+6.1%) and Chile (+8.5%).
- Net debt was significantly reduced by around 10%.
- Good progress on the 2015-2017 Strategic Plan: listing of Cellnex, 6.5% shares buyback programme, addition of new assets and extension of existing contracts.
- The company is moving into 2016 with a strong capacity for value creation:
- Traffic is expected to perform strongly in its main markets.
- Solid portfolio of growth projects: 6 projects under study; and investments up to €2,000 Mn in existing assets are being negotiated.
- Risk-free balance sheet.
Abertis' results for 2015 are shaped by the inclusion of the capital gains from the listing of 66% of Cellnex, which boosted the Group's net profit to €1,880Mn (+187%). Stripping out extraordinary results and other effects and provisions, Abertis' like-for-like net profit grew by 7%.
In 2015 Abertis confirmed the strong traffic performance on its toll roads, which continued to improve in its main markets, spearheaded by Spain (+6.1%) and Chile (+8.5%). Traffic levels in France (+1.8%), Puerto Rico (+0.8%) and Argentina (+0.7%) also rose slightly. In Brazil, where business is shaped by the country's economic cycle, traffic on Arteris' network fell by 2.3% mainly as a result of the poor performance of heavy vehicles.
The Group's key figures in 2015 were impacted by the depreciation of the Brazilian real and the change in the accounting treatment of the revenues associated with the AP-7 toll road agreement. The increase in recurring revenues partially offset these impacts and the Group ended 2015 with revenues up 5% at €4,378Mn on a comparable basis.
70% of the Group's revenues are now generated outside Spain. France has cemented its standing as the most important market for the Group, accounting for 37% of total revenue, followed by Spain with 30%.
EBITDA totalled €2,692Mn. Stripping out extraordinary impacts, like-for-like EBITDA rises 5%.
Abertis' investments in 2015 totalled €1,074Mn, of which €811Mn corresponded to growth and €95Mn to operational capex, while the outlay on new acquisitions stood at €168Mn. The main growth projects in 2015 related to improvements and lane widening on the toll road network of Arteris in Brazil (€386Mn).
Investment in new projects in 2015 included the increases in the stakes in Autopista Los Libertadores and Autopista del Sol in Chile and the purchase of an additional 15.01% of Túnels de Barcelona y Cadí.
A robust balance sheet
The revenue from the sale of Cellnex and cash generation enabled the Group to significantly reduce net debt by around 10% from €13,789Mn at the end of 2014 to €12,554Mn at 31 December. The Net Debt/EBITDA ratio stands at 4.7x. Of total debt, 66% is secured on the company's own projects (i.e. non-recourse). 90% of the debt is long-term, with 88% at fixed rates.
At the same time, the company has continued to work on liability management programmes aimed at buying back old bonds and carrying out new issues at lower rates and with longer maturities. In September, HIT, the French company in which Abertis holds a stake, bought back bonds maturing in 2018 with a 5.75% coupon. In a parallel transaction, it placed 10-year bonds (2025) with a coupon of 2.25%, which is below the Group's average cost of debt. Last November Sanef completed a €600Mn bond issue with a more than ten year maturity (March 2026) and a coupon of 1.875%.
In the last two years Abertis has carried out refinancing transactions worth over €4,000Mn, putting it on a sounder financial footing to undertake new investments and deferring de amortization of debt profiles, reducing its cost.
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Compliance with the 2015-2017 Strategic Plan
Abertis continues to fulfil the main objectives of its 2015-2017 Strategic Plan. In 2015 the Group stepped up its strategic efforts to focus its activities, concluding the disposal of the airports business and the successful IPO of the telecommunications unit (currently Cellnex) which exceed expectations. In terms of growth, the company expanded its portfolio, consolidating its stakes in Chile and Spain (Túnels de Barcelona y Cadí) and concluding Plan Relance with the French government.
Also noteworthy is the company's share buyback programme, which concluded with a tender offer for 6.5% of its own capital. The bid, which concluded on 20 October, left the Group with 8.5% of treasury stock. Abertis intends to use these shares for potential corporate deals or to give them to shareholders in lieu of or in addition to future bonus share issues.
A 2016 with high value creation capacity
The company is moving into 2016 well placed to create value, with traffic performing well in its main markets (Spain, France and Chile) thanks to the steady improvement in traffic in recent years.
Growth will remain one of the Group's core strategic objectives over the coming years. With this in mind, in January the company completed the acquisition of 100% of the Chilean toll road concession Autopista Central for €948Mn. Following the purchase, Autopista Central will be fully consolidated in Abertis's financial statements with an approximate annual impact of €220Mn on revenue; EBITDA of €160Mn; and net debt of €400Mn.
This doubles the volume of Abertis's business in Chile, making it the Group's third largest market in terms of EBITDA behind France and Spain, with 11% of the Group total.
The company is currently considering 6 growth projects in what it considers to be its priority markets, with a particular focus on Western Europe and the Americas. One of the projects currently being exclusively negotiated is the acquisition from the shareholders of A4 Holding of two toll roads in Italy. The deadline for these talks has been extended until end of March.
It is also negotiating investments of up to €2,000Mn in exchange for extensions of the concession terms of assets that already form part of its portfolio in Brazil, Chile and Puerto Rico.
Webcast of the 2015 Results press conference