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M6 Toll sold to Australian investment group

Business | Published:

The pay-to-use motorway could now turn a profit for the first time in its 14-year history.

The M6 Toll has been bought by an Australian-based investment group which is aiming to see the motorway make a profit for the first time in its history.

The UK's only toll motorway, stretching 27 miles from Cannock to Coleshill, opened in 2003 but has always lost money.

It was put up for sale last year with a price tag of almost £2 billion after a consortium of 27 banks took over ownership from Macquarie, the Australian group that built the road.

It has now been bought by IFM Investors – which also owns Manchester Airports Group, Anglian Water and communications infrastructure group Arqiva.

IFM is continuing to run the M6 Toll through the Midlands Expressway company which has operated the motorway since it opened.

Two of IFM's team have been appointed as Midlands Expressway board of directors; Deepu Chintamaneni is an IFM investment director based in London and her colleague Manok Mehta is IFM executive director for European infrastructure projects.

Manoj Mehta

Most recent figures for the toll road show average daily traffic between January and March was 44,942 – up from 42,045 last year. The weekday price for cars is currently £5.50 and £11 for HGVs.

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The road has benefited from the roadworks causing congestion on the M6 in recent years.

When it went up for sale there was pressure on the Government to consider nationalising the road and scrapping the toll, bringing the motorway into the national network, but that would appear to be no longer an option.

Deepu Chintamaneni

The M6 Toll has always made a loss because its income was always overshadowed by the huge mortgage debt taken on to build it in the first place, at a cost of £900 million.

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It is understood that the debt-restructuring process that saw the consortium of banks take over ownership, and the sale to IFM – owned a string of Australian pension funds – has seen that debt effectively wiped out.

That leaves the new owners in a position to start making a genuine profit from the toll for the first time since it was opened.

The Midlands Expressway business, which employs around 130 people, has the concession to run the M6 Toll until 2054, at which point it will be handed back the UK government.

Thom Kennedy

By Thom Kennedy
Business Editor - @tkennedy_star

Shropshire Star Business Editor

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