By Ambar Warrick
Investing.com-- Australian toll road operator Atlas Arteria (ASX:ALX) said on Tuesday it has entered an agreement to take a majority stake in a Chicago-based toll road for an equity value of $2.01 billion.
The firm said it entered a deal with the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, one of the largest pension plan operators in the world, and will take a 66.67 majority stake in the toll road. The Ontario-based pension plan holder will retain its 33.33% interest in the road.
The road in question is the Chicago Skyway, a 12.5-kilometer toll road located in the city, which has 81 years of remaining concession life, Atlas (NYSE:ATCO) said.
The deal is still subject to regulatory approval, including consent from the city of Chicago, and will be funded through an equity raising.
The move comes just a few months after the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan opened up bids for its stake in the skyway, which it jointly holds with a unit of another Canadian pension fund, The Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System.
Bloomberg had reported earlier that the two were valuing the Skyway lease at at least $4 billion.
The Skyway made $114.3 million in toll revenue in 2021, according to a recent audit by Deloitte. Atlas had initially held a 22% stake in the toll road, which it sold to the two pension firms in 2015.
The firm is one of the largest toll road operators in the world, and has roads in France, Germany, and the U.S. It was formerly affiliated with Australian investing giant Macquarie Group Ltd (ASX:MQG), but cut ties with the bank over the last decade.
In late-August, Atlas reported a 25% jump in its toll road revenue for the first six months of the year, as easing COVID-19 restrictions around the globe saw a recovery in traffic. The firm also declared a record annual dividend of 40 cents.