Cintra has just turned ten. A decade in which a pioneering idea has been converted into a multinational company with assets in seven countries, in which a workforce of 4,110 people manage 2,841 km of roads under concession and over 270,000 parking spaces. An idea that is worth 3.7 billion in the stock market and ranks among Spain's top 35 listed companies. Much of Cintra's success is due to its business and financial model.
Cintra was founded in February 1998. Chaired by Rafael del Pino Calvo-Sotelo, it came into being with three aces up its sleeve: Car parks, Toll roads and Airports. The Car Park division included three companies, Ferrovial Aparcamientos, Dornier and ESSA, which eventually merged. The Toll Road division came into being with assets in Spain (Europistas, Autema, Eurovías, Túneles de Artxanda and Ausol), Colombia and Chile, and incipient development in Portugal that would lead to the Euroscut Algarve concession. And the Airports division, which would ultimately be split off from Cintra, commenced operations in 1998 with a stake in a consortium that landed nine airports in south-eastern Mexico.
A world full of opportunities
In 1998, Cintra was already looking for businesses outside Spain. The opportunities, particularly in toll roads and airports, were often to be found in out-of-the way places. Cintra even considered making bids as far away as the Philippines and South Africa. Between 1997 and 2000, Cintra had a stake in toll roads in Colombia: Buga-Tuluá-La Paila; Cali-Candelaria-Florida; and Fontibón-Facatativá-Los Alpes.
But the watershed in Cintra's development was the award of 407 Express Toll Route in Canada in 1999. It put the company on the map and gave it a springboard to enter the strategic US market. After extensive field work, the fruits were harvested in the US in 2004. The award of 407 ETR was announced in April 1999. The investment, amounting to 400 billion pesetas, is still one of the largest-ever investments in a project of this type. Measuring 108 km, 407 ETR generates 354 million in revenues each year, more than one-third of Cintra's total. Cintra was awarded a 99-year concession on the 12.5 km.
Chicago Skyway, and the following year the State of Texas selected it as strategic partner to advise on the development of the Trans-Texas Corridor over a 50-year period. Two years later, it landed its first contract in the Trans-Texas Corridor project: segments 5 & 6 of SH-130; it also obtained a toll road in Indiana. Since April, the 156-mile Indiana Toll Road, linking Indiana with Ohio, has had electronic tolling on the bridge connecting it to Chicago Skyway. In addition to the concessions in the US and Canada, Cintra also landed a number of projects in Europe and Chile. In 2000, the company signed the contract for the Euroscut Algarve toll road in Portugal. Soon afterwards it obtained the Radial 4 in Madrid, followed by its first contracts in Ireland (N4/N6 toll road, in 2002) and in Greece (2006). The group currently has 23 concessions in seven countries: Spain, the USA, Chile, Canada, Ireland, Greece and Portugal.
Car parks, growth through service
In this last decade, the number of parking spaces under management has increased 2.5-fold to over 270,000. One of the early events in the Car Parks division was the merger of its three constituent companies. Cintra detects around 170 opportunities in this field each year, and considers around 60. Finally, it obtains over 40 contracts (i.e. a 75% success rate). Cintra concentrates on customer service as added value. Cintra was recently awarded the contract to manage the car park at Expo Zaragoza as well as Zaragoza Airport car park. The company also obtained a 15-year contract to manage the car park at Mérida Polytechnical University in Badajoz.
New concessions for the next 10 years
Cintra is currently considering new projects in the US, such as Georgia I-285. In Europe, it has bid for the A-2 in Poland and the "Tramontana" in Portugal. And it is looking to new markets: Brazil, Mexico, Chile, India and Australia.