SANTIAGO May 25 Italian infrastructure company
Astaldi is looking to expand into Argentina, the
company's chairman said on Thursday, as it vies for contracts in
a massive government infrastructure push.
The firm is examining several Argentine highway contracts,
Paolo Astaldi said in a telephone interview in Santiago. He was
in Chile for the start of construction of the state-of-the-art
European Extremely Large Telescope, in which an Astaldi-led
consortium is participating.
"We are very much interested in Argentina," said Astaldi.
"So we're looking at that, and maybe we'll get some projects
toward the end of the year."
Argentina's center-right government is boosting
infrastructure spending, which it says is needed to make up for
decades of underinvestment. It hopes that new projects will
create jobs, spur sluggish growth and win over skeptical voters
ahead of important elections.
It has announced billions of dollars of planned
improvements to railways, roads and airports, which have
attracted interest from foreign companies that have not
historically been major Argentine investors.
Astaldi added that the company was interested in ambitious
proposals to connect Argentina and Chile by digging tunnels
under the Andes mountains. A key project is the Agua Negra
tunnel, which would connect the two countries' northern regions
for about $1.5 billion.
Chile, like Argentina, is also undergoing an infrastructure
buildout. The company had not found a highway project of
interest, Astaldi said, but was keeping a close eye on future
developments at Chuquicamata, a huge copper mine belonging to
state-owned company Codelco, that awarded Astaldi a
$460 million contract in 2016 to build underground
In recent years, the Italian company has been seeking to
internationalize its operations. By the first quarter, over 80
percent of its revenue was international, and Astaldi said that
share would likely remain stable or grow slightly.
A number of potential markets that the company has eyed,
such as Cuba, remained "very interesting," Astaldi said.
(Reporting by Gram Slattery, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and