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SNC-Lavalin to sell stake in Ontario toll route for C$3.25 billion

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is set to get controlling interest in the company that operates the highly profitable Highway 407 electronic toll road.

The 407 Electronic Toll Route arcs around Toronto. Photo 407 ETR

A judge cleared the way for Canadian engineering and construction conglomerate SNC-Lavalin (TSX: SNC) to sell a 10 percent stake in the company that operates the Highway 407 Electronic Toll Route (ETR) in the Toronto area for C$3.25 billion.

SNC-Lavalin announced the Ontario ruling on August 7, which paves the way for the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) to assume a controlling stake in 407 International. 

CPIIB manages more than C$390 million (the Canadian dollar equals US 0.75) in assets for the Canada Pension Plan, the country’s public retirement system and one of the world’s largest private equity investors. 

CPIIB in May blocked SNC-Lavalin’s sale to OMERS, Ontario’s public employee pension fund, on its right of first refusal. 

The 67-mile stretch of highway covered by the 407 ETR is lucrative for its owners. It generated C$539 million in net income on revenues of C$1.27 billion in 2018.

The 407 ETR makes an arc around Toronto, from Burlington in the southwest to Hampton in the northeast. It can dramatically shave transit times in the Toronto area, though it is expensive for commercial vehicles – up to C$1.15 per kilometer for single heavy vehicles or C$1.73 for those with double trailers.

The sale will give a much-needed infusion of cash to Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin. The company has been shedding profits as it faces corruption charges in connection with contracts in Libya

Nate Tabak

Nate Tabak is a Toronto-based journalist and producer who covers cybersecurity and cross-border trucking and logistics for FreightWaves. He spent seven years reporting stories in the Balkans and Eastern Europe as a reporter, producer and editor based in Kosovo. He previously worked at newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the San Jose Mercury News. He graduated from UC Berkeley, where he studied the history of American policing. Contact Nate at [email protected].