Sunday, April 09, 2006

The fascist roots of Grupo Ferrovial

Spain’s Grupo Ferrovial has tabled a £8.75bn offer for BAA, the company that owns Britain’s top airports, including Heathrow and Stansted. BAA has rejected the bid as derisory, and Ferrovial is now deciding whether or not to go hostile.

But I was certainly intrigued by this snippet in the Guardian’s coverage of the story:

‘Ferrovial is controlled by a wealthy family which funds a charitable foundation dedicated to spreading the Spanish language and free market philosophy - an aim which has prompted tensions with the socialist government of José Luis Rodíguez Zapatero. The company negotiates with unions only where it is forced by law to do so.’

This seems worthy of further research and I’d be happy to hear from any readers that have got the skinny on these boys. Meanwhile, a quick half an hour of googling turns up some interesting information on the company, which trade unionists at BAA would do well to note.

Today. Ferrovial is a typical example of the sort of so-called free marketeer that makes a parasitic living pocketing larges amounts of subsidies by providing what should be public services anyway.

But its history marks it out as even further to the right. The company was started in 1952, when Spain was a fascist dictatorship, and it grew to prominence under Franco’s dictatorial government.

The founder, Rafael del Pino, became one of the richest men in the world, with an estimated fortune of $5bn. Given the corporatist nature of the Spanish economy during the Franco years, is inconceivable that he could have achieved that wealth without the closest collaboration with the projects of the regime.

According to its own website Ferrovial engaged in construction work for the armed forces from 1969 onwards. It also undertook work for the government of Libya, another dictatorship.

Nowadays Ferrovial is headed by del Pino’s son and namesake Rafael del Pino y Calvo-Sotelo - normally known as simply Rafael del Pino. Del Pino junior sits on the board of Circulo de Empresarios, a rightwing business organisation based in Madrid. I’m not sure whether or not this is the charitable foundation to which the Guardian alludes.

Given that del Pino junior was born in 1958, he is presumably too young to have had any significant political involvement under Franco. But it would be interesting to check the membership rolls of fascist youth organisations from the mid 1970s.

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