Germany’s Spanish-controlled contractor, Hochtief A.G., Essen, has offered the equivalent of $22 billion for the whole of Spain’s leading toll road operator Abertis Infrastructures, S.A., triggering a potential bidding war with Italy’s Atlantia S.p.A.

Hochtief says its offer trumps Atlantia bid, made in May of this year, by 13.7%. The merger would create "a self-reinforcing business model," says Hochtief’s CEO Marcelino Fernández Verdes. Hochtief believes the combined firm could boost investment in greenfield P3s expanding its portfolio of operating projects in North America, Australia and Europe.

Reporting last year sales of $5.8 billion, Abertis manages around 8,600 km of highways in Europe, the Americas and Asia. In the U.S., its subsidiary Emovis installed and maintains the Newport Pell Bridge toll system in Rhode Island.