Of the 20 million euros that the Junta de Andalucía did not put up and that aborted Abengoa’s rescue plan two years ago, to the 249 that the State Industrial Participation Society (SEPI) did not put up last week either in the umpteenth attempt to salvation, the two administrations have yielded. The pressures of a company that employs more than 8,000 people have been able to – they became more than 11,000 – and they have agreed this Monday afternoon to create a working group to try to revive a multinational that has been a flagship of the scarce industry from the south.
The company committees of Abengoa are locked up “until necessary” when their rescue does not materialize
This Monday was a last chance meeting with the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Reyes Maroto; the acting counselor for Economic Transformation, Industry, Knowledge and Universities, Rogelio Velasco; the mayor of Seville, Antonio Muñoz; and the company’s management, backed by a staff that has gathered at the gates of the Seville Conference and Exhibition Center to press for a way out: “Abengoa solution”, have been screaming their heads off.
“The meeting had to go well and it went well,” said the mayor, after concluding a meeting that began at four in the afternoon and ended with the commitment to create a technical working group to study a feasibility plan that allows this company of more than 80 years to refloat and that has been chaining rescues for more than seven years.
The minister, for her part, has reaffirmed the “firm commitment” of the Government of Spain with the companies “that have a workload”, within the multinational whose parent company is Abengoa, controlled by a group of minority shareholders, but which has dozens of subsidiaries -many without activity- and which in turn give a pulse to the main one. “The perimeter must be limited”, the minister insisted, aware of the need to measure the risk with the public money of a firm, “vanguard in the fight against climate change”, but which has generated mistrust between the administrations in recent years. years and that is why it has prevented them from reaching the rescue they have been asking for since before the pandemic.
The question, yes, is that there has been no talk of how much money the administrations would have to put up, which until now have refused to do so with arguments but do have the instruments to do so. However, from the Government of Spain they want the Junta de Andalucía to take an active part in the rescue, also providing liquidity, which is what the company needs, “as other autonomous communities have done”.
The starting point now is that the subsidiary Abenewco 1 must present a viability plan different from the one it submitted to SEPI, that is, without counting on the 249 million euros that it requested last time or the 200 that the US fund would put Earthsea. The threat that hangs over the company, because the extension of the bankruptcy proceedings expired on July 1, is expected to be dissolved with this unit shown by the administrations, in the sense that it generates a certain confidence between the entities -especially banks- that claim more than 6,000 million euros.
Flight of professionals and mistrust
In this sense, in recent months, this multinational, “which has a ‘know how’ capable of capturing large-scale projects in different countries, has seen the majority compromised by this crisis and the lack of guarantees”, as explained by the company. Another threat: in recent months it has been harmed by the brain drain, when precisely human capital had become one of its assets.
In this way, this engineering has developed some pioneering projects in the world, such as desalination plants never built before or innovative solar thermal power plants, but the mismanagement of its directors has made it lose more and more the trust of those in charge of financing these infrastructure and has put it on the verge of the biggest bankruptcy of a company in the history of this country.
Among the workers, a certain hope has spread because if until now the administrations looked the other way when it came to getting involved in their salvation, as when the Andalusian Government denied the guarantee that two years ago would have facilitated the rescue or when the SEPI, dependent of the Ministry of Finance, has not included it in the last distribution of the Solvency Aid Fund for Strategic Companies last week, this time they have decided to go hand in hand. In fact, the gesture of the counselor, already in office and elected in his day by a party (Citizens), who has been left without parliamentary representation, and who has not hesitated to thank Antonio Muñoz, mayor of Seville, has not gone unnoticed. by the PSOE, “his implication”, given that he has been the one who has fought for this meeting.
In parallel, hours before the same, the president of Abengoa, Clemente Fernández, confirmed the presentation of an appeal and a proposal for an agreement for a “global and immediate solution” that prevents the liquidation. He would commit a backing of more than 200 million euros as an alternative to the plan with Terramar, which is what Abenewco 1 was betting on.