The EIB has signed a direct loan of around €105 million with Società Italiana per il Traforo Autostradale del Frejus.
Cassa Depositi e Prestiti and UniCredit are providing project finance-based loans of €92 million and €50 million, respectively, via EIB funding.
SACE will provide guarantees of around €120 million, €80 million of which will cover the EIB financing and €40 million the CDP financing.
CDP and UniCredit have also acted as structuring and coordinating advisors for the overall structuring of the project finance-based loan.
The operation will improve road safety and the structural and seismic adaptation of bridges and viaducts, making infrastructure more resilient to future climate events.
The European Investment Bank (EIB), Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), UniCredit, SACE and Società Italiana per il Traforo Autostradale del Frejus S.p.A (SITAF) have concluded an agreement for the provision of a total of €247 million for modernisation and safety on the A32 motorway connecting north-western Italy with France via the Frejus tunnel (T4). The A32 is one of Europe’s key road arteries and an integral part of the Mediterranean Corridor of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T).
In concrete terms, the EIB has granted a direct loan of around €105 million to SITAF (ASTM Group). In addition, CDP has provided €92 million and UniCredit €50 million (totalling €142 million), benefiting from EIB funding. Around €80 million of the EIB financing and €40 million of the CDP credit lines are covered by a SACE guarantee. CDP and UniCredit have also acted as SITAF’s structuring and coordinating advisors for the overall structuring of the project finance-based loan. This financing comes in addition to the €320 million provided in 2013 for the construction of the second T4 tunnel, which is expected to open by the end of 2023.
This operation will enable SITAF to make a series of investments to improve road safety and modernise the main bridges, viaducts and tunnels along the 80 km of the A32 motorway. The investment plan also covers actions to expand smart transport systems and travel services, the replacement of lighting systems with LED technology and the renewal of noise barriers. Overall, the project will make motorway infrastructure safer and more resilient to extreme weather events.
UniCredit has also acted as hedging bank and financial advisor to the borrower for the deal.
“Supporting the creation and modernisation of the TEN-T network is an EU priority, and the EIB provides financing to make the network safer, more accessible, more sustainable and more efficient,” said EIB Vice-President Gelsomina Vigliotti. “By backing adaptation and modernisation work on the A32 motorway, the EIB is helping to secure a safe and reliable connection for transit traffic between Italy and France, facilitating the movement of goods and people.”
SITAF CEO Claudio Vezzosi said: “This funding will enable SITAF to make the planned investment to improve safety on the key artery for Italy and Europe, making it more resilient, digital and sustainable in line with the strategic orientations of the ASTM Group.”
CDP Deputy General Manager and Business Director Massimo Di Carlo added: “This partnership between national and EU institutions will strengthen an artery of vital strategic importance for the economic, social and sustainable development of Italy and the European Union. The operation is in line with CDP’s 2022-2024 strategic plan and confirms its commitment to supporting the improvement of Italy's infrastructure, offering financial resources and expertise in the structuring of intricate and innovative operations.”
UniCredit Head of Wealth and Large Corporates Italy Massimiliano Mastalia said: “We are pleased to be the only commercial bank to have made a decisive contribution to the success of this transaction, providing SITAF and ASTM Group with both financial support and our advisory expertise in the infrastructure sector to identify the most appropriate financial structure for supporting a major investment plan.”
“We are proud to have made the financing of this investment plan possible with our guarantees, improving safety on one of Europe’s main road arteries,” said SACE CEO Alessandra Ricci. “Modern infrastructure and a safe and efficient motorway network are key assets for international trade growth and an important catalyst for Italian exports to Europe.”
European Investment Bank (EIB)
The European Investment Bank (EIB) finances projects in four priority areas: infrastructure, innovation, climate and environment, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Between 2019 and 2022, the EIB Group provided €45 billion in financing for projects in Italy.
Società Italiana per il Traforo Autostradale del Frejus S.p.A. (SITAF) is a joint stock company formed in 1960 and headquartered in Susa (Turin). It holds the concession (valid until December 2050) for the A32 motorway between Turin and Bardonecchia and the Frejus tunnel (T4), which is jointly managed with French company SFTRF. The A32 links Italy with France and is an integral part of the Mediterranean Corridor of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). The motorway is complex, climbing 1 000 m over its 80 km route through 16 km of tunnels and 42 km of viaducts with extreme mountain climate conditions. SITAF recorded 361 million vehicle-km of traffic for 2022, 246 million of which were light vehicles and 115 million heavy vehicles. The T4 tunnel, which opened on 12 July 1980 and stretches for almost 13 km, was transited over 2 million times in 2022. The opening of a second, parallel tunnel is planned for late 2023. This will leave the Frejus tunnel with two single-direction tubes in line with the latest EU safety directives. The company plans to invest around €600 million in the A32 and T4 before the end of its concession. SITAF recorded €207 million in income in 2022. Part of ASTM Group since 2021, as of 31 December 2022 SITAF had 228 employees.
Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) is the national promotional institution that has supported the Italian economy since 1850. It is committed to accelerating the industrial and infrastructure development of the country in order to contribute to its economic and social growth. CDP’s core activity promotes sustainable regional development as well as the growth and innovation of Italian companies, including internationally. It partners with local authorities, providing funding and advisory services to build infrastructure and improve public utility services. It is also active in the field of international cooperation to implement projects in developing countries and emerging markets. Cassa Depositi e Prestiti is financed from entirely private resources via postal savings bonds and passbooks and through issues on the national and international financial markets.
SACE is an Italian insurance and finance company directly controlled by the Italian Ministry for the Economy and Finance. It specialises in supporting companies and the country’s economy through a wide range of tools and solutions to boost competitiveness both in Italy and across the world. For 45 years, SACE Group has been the key partner for Italian companies that export and grow in foreign markets. It also supports the banking system, using its financial guarantees to make it easier for companies to access credit. It recently expanded its role with new instruments to support liquidity, investment in competitiveness and sustainability under the Italian Green New Deal, starting with the domestic market. With a €164 billion portfolio of insured transactions and guaranteed investments, SACE and all of its Group companies — SACE FCT in factoring; SACE BT in credit insurance, surety bonds and protection from construction risks; and SACE SRV in credit recovery and information asset management — serve over 37 000 businesses (mainly small and medium-sized enterprises), supporting their growth in Italy and in more than 200 countries worldwide.
UniCredit is a pan-European commercial bank with a unique service offering in Italy, Germany, and Central and Eastern Europe. Its group-wide purpose is to empower communities to progress, delivering best-in-class services to all stakeholders, unlocking the potential of its customers and its people across Europe. It serves over 15 million customers worldwide. They are at the heart of what it does in all of its markets. UniCredit is organised into four core regions and two product factories: Corporate Solutions and Individual Solutions. This enables the group to work in close proximity to its customers, leveraging its scale to develop and offer the best products across all of its markets. Digitalisation and its commitment to environmental, social and governance principles are key service enablers. They help it deliver excellence to stakeholders and create a sustainable future for its customers, communities and people.
The Project concerns an investment programme to improve the A32 motorway, notably to align it with new EU and Italian standards in terms of safety and seismic enhanced requirements. The highway, connecting the North-West of Italy to France (Torino-Bardonecchia) via the Frejus Tunnel, is part of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) Mediterranean Corridor.
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