Spain is no longer big business for the largest construction companies
Of the large listed companies, only FCC and San José generate more than half of their business in their country of origin, while in the case of ACS it is 9% and for Ferrovial, before moving to the Netherlands, 18%.
The week in which the Ferrovial group has opened a business and political crisis by deciding to move its headquarters to the Netherlands has coincided with the presentation of results, not only of the company chaired by Rafael del Pino, but of almost all the large Spanish construction companies .
In its financial report, Ferrovial repeats one of the arguments that it has put forward to explain its change of headquarters: Spain is a small part of its business, even though it has its “roots” here. And it is not the only one that emphasizes its internationalization and the strong weight of its activity abroad, although in parallel almost all the companies break down the development of infrastructures in Spain and, some of them, also the impulse that they are going to assume the European recovery funds for their businesses.
“We are the most advanced country in the deployment of said funds, part of which is being allocated to the improvement of transport and mobility, as well as to energy infrastructures”, Sacyr indicates in its report when talking about the injection that they can suppose the Next Generation. “Regarding the future of the construction sector in our country, it continues to be quite promising, since infrastructures are key when it comes to gaining competitiveness in a country whose economic pillars are tourism and exports,” adds this company, which, in 2022, left the post-pandemic red numbers behind and earned 110 million euros in a record year in revenue, more than 5,851 million.
Some businesses linked to concessions
In the case of Sacyr, almost two thirds of its sales are generated outside of Spain. In our country, it obtains 38% of its turnover, close to 2,166 million euros. A weight of Spain in its activity that is repeated in almost all the large listed construction companies, as detailed in the information that they have sent – although not all – to the National Securities Market Commission (CNMV).
If we go into detail about the data published by other competitors, Acciona has 43% of its activity in Spain, 4,925 million at the end of the year. The company controlled by the Entrecanales, in recent years, has focused on renewable energy. However, he speaks of the Spanish market as key in infrastructure and real estate activities.
This is one of the characteristics of how the business of the large Spanish construction companies has changed, which have shifted their activity from traditional construction to businesses linked to public concessions, such as highways, which they have embraced, for example, in the United States. or Canada. Acciona, when explaining the weight by market in its infrastructure construction activities, of the 4,650 million turnover, Spain corresponds to 754 million.
It is not a very different situation from that of FCC, which is controlled by Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim, who generates almost half of his income outside of Spain. In fact, he talks about the United States as the axis for the future in the environmental business, which includes waste management and urban cleaning services. “At the international level, the strong growth in the US stands out, where the growth in sales in 2022 compared to the previous year was 121%. FCC is already among the Top 15 companies in the sector in the US, with expectations of being in the Top 10 in the next 2 years”, he breaks down.
In the more traditional construction, its business in Spain fell by 1.7% in 2022, to 870 million euros “even with the good rate of progress in the remodeling of the Santiago Bernabéu football stadium,” he assumes, without saying how much he expects enter for that work.
There are other companies that are more concise when it comes to talking about how much each country means. This is the case of OHLA, which in recent years has gone from being in the hands of the Villar Mir family to that of Luis and Mauricio Amodio, also Mexicans. This multinational only points out that Spain accounts for almost 30% of its activity, while the whole of Europe -Spanish market, included- is 48%; North America, 35.4%; and Latin America, 16.4%. He does not give more details about how the domestic business is going.
The one that does have most of its activity in Spain is San José, a smaller construction company -worth 250 million on the stock market compared to Ferrovial’s 19,000- which concentrates 75% of its income in Spain, close to 818 million euro.
If San José is the one with the most, at the opposite end is ACS, which is the construction company with the highest income (more than 33,000 million) but with less business in Spain, lower in percentage than Ferrovial. The company chaired by Florentino Pérez only concentrates 9% of its activity in the local market, which a year earlier was 10.7%, according to its results presentations, because it has not yet published
in your annual report. Specifically, in Spain it invoices 3,170 million euros.
Almost 10 of every 100 euros that ACS earns come from Spain, while 56 come from the United States and 19 from Australia. This proportion is repeated if we look at where its project portfolio is located. With a nuance, its subsidiary Clece, focused on environmental, urban or airport services, does depend on Spain, which accounts for 90% of its activity.
Ferrovial plans to grow in Spain with European funds
And what happens in Ferrovial. The multinational argues when explaining its departure to the Netherlands that its “business is predominantly international”, because its country of origin contributes 18% of its turnover. In contrast, Canada and the United States, where it aspires to grow, are 36%.
However, it also expects to grow in the construction business in its still domestic market thanks to European funds. “In Spain, growth in sales is expected with respect to 2022 thanks to the good rate of contracting, with the award of several relevant railway contracts and for private clients, and once the delays in bidding derived from COVID have been overcome,” he argues in your annual report. “In the medium term, the application of the European Next Generation funds will maintain the momentum of the tender, to which is added the good dynamics of public railway and health initiatives, and private initiatives in industrial, building and renewable energy projects”, lists the levers that he believes will make him grow in Spain.
Here, at the end of 2022, Ferrovial had 5,413 employees. In the United States -where it also expects to grow thanks to public spending on infrastructure-, with 4,178. In the Netherlands, where it plans to be based before the fall, it had five.
A disparity of templates, which will lead to removals. This Thursday, the company explained to the CNMV that “after the merger becomes effective, it may happen that certain Ferrovial employees voluntarily relocate to the Netherlands.” “Similarly, it is possible that certain Ferrovial employees are relocated and become employees of other subsidiaries of the Ferrovial group in Spain”, he acknowledges.