Categories: News

Is the good life over for motorway companies?

Pointed out for their record profits as toll rates continue to rise, motorway concession companies are in the sights of the Government, which will impose a brand new tax on them from 2024.

It’s a measure that has been talked about ever since it was introduced nearly twenty years ago. In 2006, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin endorsed the government’s decision to privatize French motorways. At the time, it was a question of ensuring the long-term maintenance and proper functioning of the many highways, which were too expensive for the State. The unofficial reason was to allow keep the public deficit below 3%as promised by the Government at the time.

At the time, France had three motorway concession networks, which were therefore owned by the State. Out of a total of eighteen potential takeover candidates, two French companies and a Spanish company won the tender. From, Vinci manages (among other things) the former Autoroutes du Sud de la France (ASF). Eiffage manages the Autoroutes Paris-Rhin-Rhône (APRR) network. And finally the Spaniard Albertis manages the North and East France Motorway Company (SANEF).

Motorway companies much more profitable than expected

The conditions negotiated at the time with the State were based on the profitability of the system by 2032. It was a matter of mutual agreement with the State to increase toll rates each year to allow an expenditure/revenue balance at this time. But some motorway company concessions have proved to be more profitable than expected, and above all earlier. During a meeting before the Finance and Sustainable Development Committees of the Assembly, Bruno Le Maire admitted that the calculations made during the privatization of the motorways in 2006 had not been correct. As interest rates fell sharply, concession companies such as Vinci, Eiffage and Albertis were able to repay their investment at a lower cost, which improved their profitability. ” We were wrong “, had thus recognized the Minister of Economy and Finance.

No impact for motorists

To calm the ardor of these profit-hungry companies (they recorded a net result of 3.9 billion in 2021), the Government has decided to impose a tax on them from 2024. Officially, to finance ecological transition and rail infrastructure. Unofficially, for restore some justice to motorists who suffer from the ever more insolent pricing policies applied to tolls. The Minister Delegate for Transport, Clément Beaune, wanted to be reassuring during his last speeches in the press. He claims that this tax would have no impact on end customers. The tolls are provided for by long-term contracts, according to him. We’ll check it all out the 1is next February, when will have taken place the annual indexation of toll rates.

Read also :

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