Florentino Pérez is like Rocca or Macri: a mega-entrepreneur of great public works. President of Real Madrid, he became the owner of the superfinal that the State and the directors of Boca and Rio deceived the Argentines. Today may be your vacation. It will be useful, because after the game a bitter drink will come. On Wednesday, he will be questioned in Congress to determine his responsibility for the illegal financing of Spanish conservatives. Perez's money is of global origin, including Argentina.
For the Spanish magazine Forbes, Don Florentino is the number one CEO of the kingdom. And Real Madrid, the world's most popular soccer club. Pérez is the chief executive of ACS, the construction company with 200,000 employees founded in 1997. In 2016, it had a turnover of 36 billion dollars and made a net profit of 855 million dollars.
Perez, at the same time the main shareholder of ACS, was able to forge a worldwide deployment. ACS has branches in Southeast Asia, Germany and Latin America. In Argentina, his achievements went beyond football. ACS is the sixth public works contractor, with burial activities and a brilliant trajectory in a very expensive item to be national: the toll.
Mauricio Macri has been working intensively with Pérez since 2009. That year, as head of the Buenos Aires government, he asked Don Florentino to do business in Argentina. He did this during a tour in Madrid, in which he consolidated ties with the Popular Party of José María Aznar and Mariano Rajoy. The PP has always been a model for Pro.
A resounding fact that linked Pérez to Macri occurred last July when European giant Abertis renewed the concession of the Acceso Oeste and Acceso Norte highways for 12 years, until 2030. For the 119 kilometers of the former, it spends 85,000 cars per day. For the 56 kilometers of the second, 77 thousand. According to the agency Europa Press, the two concessions contribute with 60 million dollars per year to the revenue of Abertis.
Abertis is controlled by Atlantia and ACS after a $ 19 billion operation that has made the new group the world's largest toll concessionaire. The Spanish construction company Perez owns 30 percent of the shares. The German subsidiary of ACS, Hochtief, 20% minus one share. Benetton's Atlantida has 50%.
Another fact that brought together Pérez and Macri in a common theme was the prospect of profitability that would reach the president's Spanish friends. On May 10 of this year, the influential Spanish website www.elconfidencial.com put this title: "Florentino Pérez takes over the abertis crisis in Argentina". He added that Pérez "leads the team that negotiates with the Macri government to minimize the cut of 250 million euros due to the possible withdrawal of concessions from two highways in Buenos Aires."
For ACS, the origin of what it considered as problem was the mixture of sidereal increase in rates and devaluation. This mix would generate a triple risk, according to El Confidencial Digital, "since its presence as a construction company (mainly through Dragados) and materials (through Cobra) are now monitored by Abertis, which has two management tolls." access to Buenos Aires, which generates an income of 250 million per year. "
The researchers said that "Florentino Pérez's team at ACS is evaluating the impact of the Argentine crisis, especially on the recently absorbed Abertis." They said they were worried about the devaluation and the investment commitments signed in 2017 before the 2018 exchange rally. "What is really worrying now is Argentina's almost 700 million investment commitment that Abertis signed in 2017," which He was able to extend the contract.
When profits fall or do not rise as expected and govern friends, there is work to be done. "The president of Real Madrid takes into account that it would be the second market in which ACS would be penalized after Spain, so, according to the sources consulted, Perez is turning to the Argentine executive to minimize the cut," wrote the director. journalists
The Macri Group is the source of the tolls, and the tolls are on the DNA of a conglomerate that grew under the protection of state benefits with notable leaps in the dictatorship and during the government of Carlos Menem. One of its main companies, Sideco, was able to hold 23% of the shares of Ausol, together with Abertis and Italy's Impregilo.
The confusion of public and private interests became so scandalous that even the government took note. At the suggestion of the Anti-Corruption Office, the decree extending the concessions until 2030 was signed by Vice President Gabriela Michetti and not Macri. They also signed chief of staff Marcos Peña and Transport Minister Guillermo Dietrich.
The original grant was granted in 1994 by the Menem government. The contract extended by the State includes indemnification for previous works.
This newspaper published on August 3, 2017 a complaint of Margarita Stolbizer. Judge Daniel Rafecas began investigating whether Mauricio Macri benefited his family by raising the price of Autopistas del Sol before the group sold the shares four times the price of 2015. Stolbizer wondered why Macri "He did not sell his shares when he took over and only 15 months later. " With the increases, Autopistas del Sol canceled debts and paid dividends. Macri sold once stocks went up. One of the buyers was Natal Inversiones, ACS's partner at Abertis.
The relationship between cost and benefit in the toll business has always been a concern of Grupo Macri and ACS.
This equation kept Don Florentino very active throughout the year. On November 27, the Ministry of Transport and the National Highway Authority signed resolution 2369 on tolls on the two busiest highways. The expression that repeats itself has two words: "tariff re-determination".
So far, both the government and critics of the resolution, obviously for different reasons, have presented a closed subject. It's not like this. Or almost not. The issue of toll rates is open, as is clear from the following sequence, which follows from the simple reading of the resolution:
- In February 2018, Dietrich and the then National Administrator of Highways, Javier Iguacel, called the public to increase the tariffs in the two accesses.
- The Ministry of Transport and the Department of Roads, which after the passage of Iguacel to the Energy area leads Mabel Gutierrez, have since promoted the increase of tariffs to be applied "after the end of 2018".
- The new tariffs will take into account the fall in the circulation of cars and, as if the cement and the wages of the employees were updated in dollars, they will consider the cumulative devaluation of the dollar as of December 31, 2016.
- Now, companies are obliged to present the new tariff schedule and expose it in "an institutional space for the expression of opinions and proposals by the interested parties". One part will be face to face. The other, online.
- The resolution clarifies, of course, that "the views and proposals put forward during this procedure will not be binding". He says it twice. If there is participation, this is not noticed. And if you notice, do not force anything. That is why the process is not closed, but almost. Or it's open, but almost not. As a final between Boca and River.
The South American Football Confederation, known as Conmebol, was the visible face of the decision to transfer the superfinal from Boca and the river to Spain. The official version is that the game could not be played at Monumental on November 24 because fan Matías Firpo threw a bottle in a window of the micro that took the Boca players. Certainly very few will approve the conduct of Firpo, who at the top confessed his repentance before Justice. But banishing a match from Argentina just for him sounds like an alibi. It is like thinking that the main cause of the First World War was the Bosnian Gavrilo Princip, when he killed the archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria.
The president of Conmebol, the Paraguayan Alejandro Domínguez, who in turn is vice president of the International Federation of Associated Football, was fundamental for the construction of the official history. A graduate of Kansas with marketing ties, he reached both positions after the corruption scandal originated in an American investigation. Together with the Swiss-Italian Gianni Infantino, FIFA president, Domínguez was one of the special guests of the G-20 Colón gala on Friday 30 November. Neither he nor Infantino preside over countries. But perhaps FIFA and Conmebol explain part of the financial globalization with their movements of white money and black money.
For the malicious, the chronology is juicy. On November 27, the Transportation and Roads Resolution was signed. On the 29th, Conmebol decided to play in the Real Madrid stadium. The 30 Macri, Domínguez and Infantino cried in the Colón. It is evident that each process has its own development. Is the coincidence of dates coincidence? It's possible. What is not casual is the permanent passage of interests between the Spanish conservatives of the PP, the Argentine conservatives of PRO, public works, the tolls of Pérez and Macri, the political and economic business of football in Real Madrid, Boca, Rio and life in the boxes.
In addition to Pérez, ACS shareholders include the March family, Miquel Fluxá Roselló and the pair known in Spain as "Los Albertos", by Alberto Alcocer and Alberto Cortina. Both are cousins and hold the title of men richer of Spain. They were married to two sisters, Alicia and Esther Koplowitz, a family linked to large buildings. But who really weighs is Florentino, who shares ACS with Real Madrid in this order of importance for their daily agenda.
Perez is a close friend of a close friend of Macri, the former president of the Mariano Rajoy government, leader of the conservative Popular Party. He had to leave his post on June 1 last when the court found that he had lied in a case for illegal funding of PP. Apart from business and politics, Rajoy and Perez join the seafood of Badulaque, a tasty restaurant in La Coruña where they meet frequently with the president of the Galician government, Alberto Núñez Feijoo, and with the director of the newspaper ABC Bieito Rubido . When Parliament voted for the motion of censure against him, Rajoy spent seven and a half years at the helm of the government, 15 as the PP's top leader and 38 in the public career. Now you will have time for seafood.
Rajoy's match coincided with another: Frenchman Zinedine Zidane as technical director of Real Madrid. "If Rajoy is free, Florentino Pérez can hire him," joked sports journalist Isaías Lafuente. "He has a lot of people in the bank." There is some familiarity between the bench and the dock. Everything is crossed when football mingles with politics and big capital.
On February 12, when the end of the year and Reyes are over and there is nothing left of the hangover, Rajoy will have to attend the congressional committee that has already cited Pérez and investigates the illegal financing of the PP. Before the holidays, on December 12, his friend Florentino must attend. ACS is among the companies that donated resources to former treasurer of PP Luis Bárcenas. At the convocation of Perez agreed all the parliamentary groups less, of course, the deputies of the PP. The Socialists agreed: we can and even the liberal citizens.
The Congress of Deputies investigates the details of the concession of works in exchange for alleged bribes or commissions.
Arrested in Soto del Real prison, Bárcenas was sentenced to 33 years in prison for the Gürtel case. He has just filed an appeal with the Supreme Court of Spain, in which he says he was "a simple amanuensis by noting income and payments in the donation account."
It was precisely Bárcenas who involved Don Florentino. In a phrase that may sound common in Boca or Rio said: "The PP has the Bernabeu box to do business". The Bernabeu is the Real Madrid stadium. Barcenas said it was "a joke" to imagine that Perez used him as an intermediary when ministers passed through his box. "With the level of dialogue that Florentino Pérez and Juan Miguel Villar-Mir have, nobody thinks they will use the coach," he defended himself. Born in 1931 and an employee of Francisco Franco, the Marquis de Villar-Mir was also a construction entrepreneur and deputy minister of economic affairs for Rajoy.
Another accused of Gürtel's conspiracy, Francisco Correa, told the court that he had no idea that it was a crime to give gifts to political leaders in return for favors. He narrated as a natural fact that the boxes of the Bernabeu were the stage of great operations. "Ministers from this country, former presidents of this country's government, work in this way in many Latin American countries and the Middle East," he explained. He added: "A football team from this country has organized a preseason on a continent far away, in a very distant country, for which I have never been, and two months after the return I read in the press that one of their companies was related to that soccer team, was awarded the biggest work of the country, $ 2.5 billion. China, Japan and United States are common destinations for the friendly of Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Correa said entering a Real Madrid box costs five thousand euros per person, but that ministers, presidents and judges are invited and do not pay. And that he did the same. "With my companies, I invited them in the best way, because they were good clients of mine".
"It seems that since 2015 is a crime in the Penal Code and not before," he said ironically. Yes, Correa recognized that he was hiding funds abroad. "Well, they begin to make prisons in Spain to put in prison all the citizens who are in the role of tax havens," he said.
Pérez immediately complained to Correa, an event manager who was born in Casablanca in 1955 and likes to call himself Don Vito, for Vito Corleone's "The Godfather". He was arrested for the first time by Baltasar Garzón when Garzón was still a judge, before the revenge of the Franco regime and the Hispanic admirers of Augusto Pinochet. Fan of Barcelona, the other vocation of the magistrate was the bow. But he has always had an aversion to the decline of lobbyists, that category of people the wind spreads and the tolls accumulate.