Florentino Perez, from politics to Real Madrid, life and career of the Spanish billionaire who “disrupts” the game on Autostrade

The entrance of Florentino Pérez Rodriguez in the game Autostrade is a real one twist. So far, in fact, the Venetian industrialists have argued that there was really no one in circulation interested in buying Aspi. Thus the news that Pérez is willing to put his hand to his wallet to create a pan-European group has raised many questions among investors. In the international financial community there are in fact those who argue that Pérez wants to show Aspi at Benettons. And who, on the other hand, believes that the billionaire is a sort of ace in the hole of the Venetian industrialists for convince CDP to retouch upwards the offer for 88% of Aspi. It is difficult to say which of the two versions is the right one. But it is certain that Pérez is an old acquaintance for the Benettons that I am with came to terms in 2018 for the conquest of Abertis also becoming business partners in the newco that controls the Spanish company.

After all, Pérez is not just any industrialist. His international fame is substantially linked to the role of president of the football team of Real Madrid. But in reality the Spanish tycoon is one of the men richest and most influential in the country. Rich because he has a fortune that the US magazine Forbes estimates equal to 2.2 billion dollars. A wealth built around the group of buildings ACS, Construction Activities and Services. Influential because in his past there is one political career highly respected: at the end of the 70s he served in the Union of Democratic Center (UDC) before moving to Democratic Reform Party of which it was general secretary. However, the formation did not get any seats in the 1986 elections. So it dissolved shortly afterwards along with the political ambitions of Pérez who decided to devote himself to business. With some success as evidenced by the fact that today, in the world ranking of the scrooge, the industrialist is placed in position 1517. In Spain, however, it is said that money doesn’t interest him as much as power. “I’ve never worked to make money, because I don’t know how to enjoy them. The money in the bag one day goes up and another goes down, it’s hard to know how much I have “he admitted in an interview to the Spanish edition of Business insider a few years ago.

Third of five children of an ordinary middle-class family, Perez, born in 1947, is an example of the self-made man in Spanish version. He studied civil engineering at the Madrid Polytechnic. Then he attempted the political adventure and finally went into business. The leap in quality came in the late 90s when it became vice president of OCP Constructions which then merged with rival Ocisa to become ACS, a company for almost 35 billion in turnover, 1.4 billion in profits and beyond 179 thousand employees. A group that Pérez controls through the safe Inversiones Vesan, the largest shareholder of Acs with 12.68% of the capital.

In his career as a business captain, however, there is one not insignificant blemish: the failed Castor project, the mega gas deposit that the European Commission and the Zapatero government wanted to build off the coast of gulf of Valencia. ACS, of which Pérez is president, was at the forefront of the project which was immediately abandoned when offshore storage maneuvers generated over 400 earthquakes. However, these shocks did not affect the tycoon’s empire, to which the Spanish state immediately came to the aid, compensating the banks financing the project for approximately 1.35 billion. “Perez never loses” summarized the site at the time elcierredigital.com. But he defended himself in parliament, saying he lost a lot of money. “It seems that I am a devil. They say they gave Florentino 3.2 billion? They didn’t give me a cent. All the money (public, ed) went to lenders, bondholders and the European Investment Bank. We lost money here, ”the billionaire told El periodico.com in June 2019. The Spanish environmentalists but still today they don’t think so. They accuse him of being an entrepreneur by offloading part of the risks onto the state. A story that is certainly not a pretty business card for a potential buyer of Motorways for Italy.

The Economic Fact – A selection of the best articles from the Financial Times translated into Italian together with our economic insert.

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