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French Government signs concession contract with Atlandes for Autoroute 63

The French government has signed a concession contract with Atlandes, which involves the financing, design, development, widening, maintenance and operation of a section of Autoroute 63, between the towns of Salles and Saint-Geours-de-Maremne in southwest France. Atlandes is a company comprising: Colas Sud-Ouest; Screg Sud-Ouest;, Spie batignolles; NGE; Egis Projects; HSBC European Motorway Investments and DIF Infrastructure II. The 40-year concession came into effect on January 24, 2011. Atlandes’ financing, which will total roughly EUR1.1 billion (US$1.5 billion), includes EUR200 million (US$275 million) in shareholders’ equity and nearly EUR900 million (US$1.2 billion) in credit from a pool of 10 European banks. The amount also comprises an initial entrance fee of EUR400 million (US$550 million), which corresponds to the transfer of existing infrastructure.

Atlandes will be in charge of project management. The EUR500 million (US$687 million) development phase, involves the upgrading of former National Route RN 10 to current environmental and highway standards, as well as the widening of the 105km (65 miles) section to six lanes, in order to improve user safety and service. The work will be performed in a 41-month timeframe by a consortium including Colas Sud-Ouest and Screg Sud-Ouest, Valérian (subsidiary of Spie batignolles) and NGE. Egis Exploitation Aquitaine, a subsidiary of Egis Road Operation, will maintain and operate the concession and will take on the government employees, who currently work on the section.

An open toll system will enable local traffic to use the highway section free of charge. Tolls for heavy vehicle traffic will be tailored based on emission levels, to ensure that the most environmentally-friendly heavy goods vehicles pay less. Atlandes will be the first concession company to implement this type of modulating toll policy in France. Tolls will be charged, at reduced rates, from October 2013, following the completion of the first phase of work. Full rates will be applied when the entire section is opened to traffic, which is due in July 2014. The upstream preliminary studies carried out prior to the effective date of contract, notably regarding environmental protection in light of commitments made by the French government and targets set at the Grenelle Environmental Roundtables, will make it possible to launch work as early as the fall of 2011.

 

January 28, 2011

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