MADRID Dec 12 The Spanish government may to
have to take over several bankrupt toll roads, the minister for
public works said on Monday, adding that the state's chances of
reaching a rescue deal involving the motorways' bank lenders was
The government has been trying for the past three years to
negotiate some arrangement with creditors to help prop up nine
struggling toll roads while also avoiding saddling the state
deficit with several billions euros of debt.
The deal would have involved steep losses for lenders - one
plan envisage a 50 percent writedown on the debt - alongside an
But the public works minister, Inigo de la Serna, told state
television that talks had been hampered by banks selling off
much of the loans to other investors.
"This is a very complicated process, some (of the highways)
are in bankruptcy proceedings and already at the liquidation
stage and so the scenario we are presented with is that they
would revert back to the state," de la Serna said.
"We are trying to negotiate with the banks ... but it's
De la Serna did not detail how much debt the motorways were
lumbered with. Construction lobby group Seopan last year
estimated that the cost of a nationalisation could be around 5.5
billion euros ($5.84 billion)
The Spanish government has been trying to keep the roads
open and already appealed one court ruling that would have
caused two motorways backed by Abertis, Sacyr
and ACS to be liquidated and closed.
The road operators struggled to attract enough traffic
during a long economic downturn. Though Spain exited recession
three years ago, the highways have also had to compete in many
instances with toll-free roads running alongside them.
($1 = 0.9425 euros)
($1 = 0.9422 euros)
(Reporting by Jose Elias Rodriguez and Robbie Hetz, Writing by