Arquitectura Viva
Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Spain Builds (Abroad)

The international accounts of Spain’s construction companies stay on the rise and it is estimated that the foreign projects of the ‘six greats’ – ACS, Acciona, Ferrovial, FCC, Sacyr, and OHL –, valued at 101,748 million euros, account for as much as 83% of the total portfolio. It is true that the figures seem to prove the rightness of the aggressive policy of expansion that the sector has been applying for already a decade now, and justify some optimism about the country’s capacity to compete globally, but there is a paradox: the leading representatives of the so-called ‘Spain Brand’ abroad come from the financial-real estate-politics framework, which within Spanish borders has left the economy in coma.

So, while the domestic market continues to languish (this year’s portfolio, 17,326 million euros, is 1.5% less than last year’s, especially because of the decrease in public investment), overseas it keeps offering opportunities to firms which, spoiled by the Administration, grew in the heat of the bubble of private property and public infrastructures, became more competitive in the abrasive environment of the Spanish market during the boom, were strengthened by risky expansions of capital and diversification of activities, and initiated their international ventures without complexes, in such a way that when the bubble broke, they were more than ready to compete in all kinds of markets. .

The migration of construction companies in search of more favorable ecosystems has been swift and extraordinarily fruitful, as illustrated by the list of projects carried out in the last decade, from the highly complicated and controversial enlargement of the Panama Canal – which revealed the strengths and weaknesses of the ‘Spanish way’ – to the no less difficult and polemic high-speed railway line between Medina and Mecca, and along the way, many other iconic projects of exorbitant budgets, among them the Metro of Riyadh (6 billion), the light Metro of Toronto (4 billion), Line 2 of the Metro of Lima (3.9 billion), or the channeling of the sewers under the Thames in London (1.05 billion). Spain continues to build, even though only abroad.

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