The project portfolio in Spain of the large construction companies is dwindling, despite the fact that this year public bidding has been encouraged thanks to the electoral cycle and the pull of Adif or the General Directorate of Highways.
ACS, Acciona, Ferrovial, Sacyr, OHLA and FCC, which are the six largest Spanish companies in the sector, had a project portfolio in the country worth 35,062 million euros at the end of 2022, a figure 40% lower than the from a decade ago, 58,128 million, according to information from the companies themselves compiled by this newspaper. It is also less than the 41,637 million of 2019, before the pandemic.
This volume responds to the particular cycle of public works in Spain, which experienced a boom before the Great Recession and which, after a convalescent decade and with allocations in the State budget of less than 1%, has not managed to recover its vigor. The projects are no longer so focused on roads, construction, housing or large works, and are now turning to areas such as energy or transport, where competitors beyond the traditional construction companies appear.
ACS is the construction company with the largest portfolio of projects, for 68,996 million euros, of which 9%, or 5,972 million, correspond to Spain. In 2007 it had a much more modest volume of orders, 12,011 million, but most of them, 9,767 million, came from their country of origin. In 2019, before the pandemic, it totaled 10,885 million in the country.
His case is repeated with particularities in the rest of the construction companies. OHLA is now the one with the most Spanish weight, 41%, but because its total portfolio has been greatly reduced, to just 1,684 million, a fifth of what it was a decade ago. In FFC, Spain also weighs a lot, 35%, but the volume of orders has fallen in ten years from about 18,000 million to 14,095 million at the end of 2022.
Ferrovial, which has just moved its headquarters to the Netherlands, came to add 7,800 million a decade ago in Spain, or a quarter of the total, and now places the figure at 2,200 million, or 15%. At Sacyr, the Spanish portfolio has gone from around 12,500 million ten years ago to 8,137 million. Acciona, on the other hand, is the only one that has raised the amount in the last decade, up to 3,963 million, but the national weight is now 18%, compared to 30% a decade ago.
The construction companies have actually known how to make a virtue of necessity, since the last few years have been of internationalization, especially in search of large works in the United States and a concession model that seems exhausted in Spain. This has allowed its project portfolio to reach record levels as a whole: ACS added close to 70,000 million euros at the end of last year; Sacyr, 54,755 million; FCC, 40,273 million; Ferrovial, 14,743 million; Acciona, 22,020 million; and OHLA, 1.684 million.
This electoral year there has been an acceleration in the tenders of the General Directorate of Highways, which have multiplied by six until June, up to 923 million, according to data from the association of large construction companies Seopan. Adif has also raised bankruptcies by 58%, up to 2,376 million, and there are administrations such as the Junta de Andalucía or the Generalitat Valenciana with increases of 69% and 91%, respectively.
However, the president of Seopan, Julián Núñez, warns that the problems now have to do with the "absence of price stabilization formulas and mechanisms in the tendered works" after the increase in the cost of materials. Many companies are forced to advance resources, which puts them in an "unsustainable" treasury situation.
Companies also complain about a paralysis of public-private collaboration. The recently created National Evaluation Office (ONE) for infrastructure projects is not working as they would like. Seven out of ten files submitted get unfavorable reports, and, by mid-year, there were 3,000 million euros of paralyzed budget, they say.