There were no questions at the OHLA shareholders’ meeting held this Thursday in Madrid. The construction company chaired by the Mexican Luis Amodio is moving away from the troubled waters through which it navigated in the past with the Villar Mir at the helm. The results of 2021, with 91 million ebidta (the best record since 2016), contracting record (3,696 million) and a 30% lower indebtedness (523 million) give air to the group whose price, however, has been flat since 2019 with dividends suspended until April 2026.
The messages from the Chairman and the CEO, José Antonio Fernández Gallar, mixed that corporate optimism with reflections on the macroeconomic scenario uncertain war in Europe and skyrocketing prices. And to the puzzle of uncertainties Fernández Gallar added the “great concern about the lack of human resources in all sectors of the economy, and especially in construction, something that will be one of the great challenges in the coming years.” In Spain, the employers are at least taking this threat seriously, as evidenced by the preliminary agreement reached with the unions in May to raise wages by 10% until 2024.
OHLA, with some 23,000 employees around the world, will need a lot of resources to face the sheet of objectives detailed in the meeting in the coming years. This year it expects to achieve an EBITDA of 110 million, sales of more than 3,000 million and 3,500 in new contracts, while adding two concession projects. It is making great efforts in the United States and in Latin America.
In the US they are considered a local company with 1,630 employees. Last year, projects worth 1,150 million were awarded in Florida, New York or Maryland where, with ACS, they will build a light rail in the vicinity of Washington for 2,170 million that will avoid the passage of 16,000 vehicles a day.
Latin America, highlighted Amodio (owner of the Mexican construction company Caabsa), is “a market of reference for OHLA, with a continuous presence for 43 years”. Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Panama and Chile are its most profitable markets. In the latter, the company is building the Américo Vespucio urban highway, one of the largest in the subcontinent, and in the Colombian capital it has four hospitals underway.
In Europe, on the other hand, his vision becomes more somber. The president mentioned that the construction company relies on European funds and, given the scarcity of resources to improve civil works infrastructure such as water, energy or the environment, he called for a boost in “public-private collaboration to maintain the stock infrastructure capital. It is essential to recover this collaboration by taking advantage of the liquidity of the market” he said. From Spain, he highlighted the “good reception” of the Canalejas project in the heart of Madrid, which after eight years of work opened its doors in the year of the pandemic with the inauguration of the Four Seasons hotel.
He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.
As for the debt, its objective is to place it below three times the operating result. With the numbers of 2021, it would be equivalent to reducing it to 250 million. The meeting approved with 93% of votes in favor and 6.1% against the new remuneration policy that will govern OHLA until 2026, and which reserves an item of 1.5 million euros for the board.