Germany's Hochtief courting Qatar to take stake: report

24th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

German building giant Hochtief is in talks with Qatar in the hope that the emirate will take a stake in the company in order to thwart a hostile takeover bid by Spain's ACS, a report on Sunday said.

News weekly Der Spiegel reported in an advance copy of its Monday issue that German Chancellor Angela Merkel had arranged a Berlin meeting between Hochtief chief executive Herbert Luetkestratkoetter and Qatar's economy minister.

But Doha has not taken a decision on possible investment in the company, Spiegel said.

A Hochtief spokeswoman confirmed that Merkel had introduced Luetkestratkoetter and the Qatari minister during a dinner with around 100 industry leaders at the presidential palace in Berlin but declined to provide further details.

"Anything else (in the report) is speculation," the spokeswoman told AFP.

ACS, Spain's biggest construction company, already holds just under 30 percent of Hochtief and has said it wants to take a majority holding to create what would be the world's largest building firm.

Merkel's spokesman said earlier this month that she would not intervene directly, although she opposed any break-up of Hochtief -- a possibility if ACS takes it over -- and wanted its headquarters to remain in Germany.

In another defensive move, Hochtief said Wednesday that it would apply to Australia's Takeover Panel to attempt to force ACS to buy Leighton, a subsidiary of the German firm listed on the Sydney Stock Exchange.

But in a statement from Madrid, ACS said it was confident the Takeover Panel would rule in its favour.

© 2010 AFP

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