Daniels says investors overpaid on Indiana Toll Road

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Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels says foreign investors "overpaid" for their lease of the Indiana Toll Road five years ago.

The Spanish-Australian investor group Cintra-Macquarie is in danger of defaulting on loans it used in the 2006 toll road deal, according to a May article in The Financial Times.

IBJ reported in 2009 that toll road investors were struggling because of the economic downturn.

Their troubles mean the state got a better deal than it would have had it waited a few years to lease the toll road, Daniels said Wednesday.

"It means they overpaid," the governor said. "That's why you hold an auction, sometimes you hit the jackpot."

Daniels on Wednesday marked the five-year anniversary of the lease, and said the state is insulated from any financial problems under the deal it crafted.

Much of the money from the 75-year lease has already been spent on highway projects throughout the state, but $500 million was placed in an investment fund that collects interest to pay for future road construction.

In addition to making the state money, the lease also saves the state money by helping it avoid maintenance costs on the toll road.

Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary, said he opposed the leasing of the toll road in 2006 and still thinks that the state shouldn't have pawned off a valuable resource.

"We've got to understand, any time we get privatization people have to make a profit," Smith said. If they don't earn money, "we have a situation where we have an unstable commodity that we really don't have any control over."

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