The Mexican subsidiary of Spain's OHL said Monday it initiated "legal action" against the government of Puebla state for its "surprising and unilateral" decision to revoke its concession to build and operate a 35-kilometer (22-mile) expressway.
OHL Mexico said in a statement that the purpose of the lawsuit "is to protect its legitimate interests and those of its shareholders, particularly those acquiring their stake through the Mexican Stock Exchange, in view of the decision taken by the government of Puebla state."
OHL Mexico said that the concession was awarded "within the strictest legality" during the former administration.
The communique did not specify what kind of suit the company has filed.
A spokesman for the government of Puebla, however, told Efe that the state government has not yet been notified about any specific legal action initiated by OHL.
"Up to now the government has received no notice about any legal or administrative procedure, so we are waiting to be notified in order to analyze the terms of this supposed procedure," state spokesman Sergio Ramirez Robles said.
Puebla officials canceled the OHL concession on May 9 under the legal position of "rescuing a public asset" without compensation, after detecting a series of alleged irregularities, including the fact that this was a no-bid contract awarded in March 2008 without any competitive offers.
The contract called for the construction, operation and maintenance of the expressway for a period of 33 years, OHL Mexico said.
The company described as "arbitrary and illegal" the decision by Puebla Gov. Rafael Moreno Valle's administration to scrap the deal.
The works that were to begin this month "clash" with plans for an elevated viaduct over the Mexico-Veracruz expressway that Puebla is promoting, because an article in the OHL concession "does not permit bidding on parallel toll roads with the same points of origin and destination," OHL Mexico said.
Ramirez said state officials will wait to hear the basis of the lawsuit mentioned by the Spanish company's Mexican subsidiary in order to make the appropriate response.
"It would be irresponsible to issue any statement about a case we have not yet confirmed," Ramirez said.
Puebla Infrastructure Secretary Antonio Gali Fayad, meanwhile, told Mexican media Monday that the state project for an elevated viaduct does not interfere with the projected OHL expressway as the Spanish company suggests.
Gali said that the 19-kilometer (12-mile) state project for a viaduct will be presented Tuesday to the federal Communications and Transportation Secretariat for approval.
OHL has won several contracts from the governments of the Federal District and the states of Mexico, Puebla and the Federal District, as well as from federal authorities, for the construction, exploitation and preservation of six expressways with a total length of 359 kilometers (223 miles) and an investment of 5.66 billion euros (some $6.7 billion). EFE