Atlantia closes on €2.8bn French toll contract

Five banks are backing the Italian developer to help finance a satellite-based tolling system for heavy vehicles across France. Atlantia suffered a convoluted procurement process for the contract, at one point seeing the tender annulled by a French court.

Atlantia, Italy’s premier toll road operator, has reached financial close on a contract for the development of a satellite-based tolling system for heavy vehicles in France, the developer announced last Friday.

Banca IMI, Deutsche Bank, Mediobanca, Unicredit and Credit Agricole Corporate Investment Bank are backing Atlantia with an undisclosed amount of debt. Atlantia said it expects to net €2.8 billion in total revenue from the 13.3-year contract, known locally as the Eco Taxe Poids Lourds.

Atlantia will be required to implement and operate a tolling system across 15,000 kilometres of France’s road network which aims to charge a fee from heavy vehicles weighing over 3.5 tons. In addition to Atlantia (70 percent), the winning consortium includes French companies Thales (11 percent), SNCF (10 percent), SFR (6 percent) and Steria (3 percent).

The financial close marks the end of a convoluted procurement process for the Italian developer. Originally awarded the contract in January, Atlantia saw its win challenged by the second-placed bidder – the ALVIA consortium of French companies Sanef, Egis, Caisse des Depots, and others – and the tender process eventually annulled by a French court.

It was only in June that France’s highest court – the Council of State – overturned the lower court ruling and re-confirmed Atlantia as the winner of the contract, paving the way for the financial close that has now been achieved.