Argentina awards road projects in first round of public-private deals

BUENOS AIRES, June 18 (Reuters) - Argentina awarded six road projects to five different consortia under its first wave of public-private partnerships (PPP), the Transportation Ministry said on Monday, in a plan expected to bring in $6 billion in investment in the next four years.

The South American country’s market-friendly government under President Mauricio Macri is banking on the new PPP program to maintain infrastructure investment. It has pledged to reduce public works spending as part of a plan to cut its fiscal deficit under a $50 billion financing deal with the International Monetary Fund.

Under PPP programs, private companies finance the project and enter into a long-term contract with the state to recoup their investment. Argentina expects further waves of PPP investment in areas including railways and energy infrastructure to attract a total of $26.5 billion in investment through 2022.

The government had received 32 bids from 10 consortia for the six projects to build new roads and improve existing ones.

A consortium made up of Argentina’s Helport SA and Spain’s Obras y Servicios Copasa was awarded two of the projects, including highways from Buenos Aires to Santa Fe, in the heart of the Pampas farm belt, and from Santa Fe to Cordoba.

China Construction America, a unit of China State Construction Engineering Corp, won a contract for highways between Buenos Aires and La Pampa in a consortium with Argentina’s Green SA.

A unit of Portugal’s Mota Engil also won a contract in consortium with Argentine firms. (Reporting by Luc Cohen, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)