Australian investment consortium closes on $5.72B lease sale of Indiana Toll Road

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GRANGER, Indiana — Australian investment consortium IFM Investors has closed on its $5.72 billion purchase of another company and its lease on the Indiana Toll Road was filed Wednesday in federal bankruptcy court in Chicago.

Toll Road operator ITR Concession Co. declared bankruptcy in September on more than $6 billion in debt. The Australian buyer promises major improvements for the 157-mile roadway across northern Indiana.

IFM Investors plans to invest $260 million in capital improvements on the Indiana Toll Road over the next five years, The (Munster) Times (http://bit.ly/1J50f5k ) reported. The company's plans include improvements to deteriorating pavement, bridges and travel plazas, according to Ken Daley, the new CEO of ITR Concession, which will continue operating the toll road under IFM Investors' ownership.

Numerous deficiencies along the highway, including closed sewage dump stations at risk of unmonitored dumping, deficient pavement and signage at the travel plazas, and activities at vehicle maintenance facilities that could allow petroleum products or other chemicals to spill into open storm water drains, were cited in a report delivered in October to the Indiana Toll Road Oversight Board.

During a public meeting in Indianapolis two weeks ago, the Indiana Finance Authority, which acts as owner of the land under the toll road, voted unanimously for operations to be transferred from ITR Concession to IFM Investors.

More than 70 U.S. pension funds provided a significant portion of the equity for the transaction, said Julio Garcia, head of North American infrastructure for IFM Investors.

Nearly all of the $5.72 billion garnered in the toll road's lease sale will be used to pay off bondholders who owned bonds backing up ITR Concession's $6 billion debt.

The Indiana Toll Road was completed in 1956. It spans across 157 miles of northern Indiana, connecting Interstate 90 in Chicago to the Ohio Turnpike.


Information from: The Times, http://www.thetimesonline.com

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