Hochtief shareholder to sell up to Spain's ACS

16th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

Southeastern Asset Management, a stockholder in German construction group Hochtief, said Thursday it would sell two million shares to ACS of Spain, which has made an offer for the German firm.

The amount represents roughly half of Southeastern's 4.84 percent stake in Hochtief and the move came after Actividades de Construccion y Servicios made an improved offer of nine of its own shares for five of those in Hochtief.

It brings ACS, in which Southeastern owns around 6.5 percent, closer to acquiring a controlling stake in Hoctief and so becoming the biggest public works company in Europe.

Southeastern said in a statement to investors that the new ACS offer, up 12.5 percent on the initial bid, is "more reflective of the intrinsic value of Hochtief."

The fund also expressed "disappointment at the recent actions of Hochtief management," which sold a stake of 9.1 percent to Qatar in an attempt to ward off ACS.

ACS is already a major Hochtief shareholder and the sale of shares to Qatar reduced its stake to 27.2 percent.

With the roughly 2.6 percent holding sold by Southeastern, ACS will own about 29.8 percent of Hochtief, just below the level of 30 percent at which it must make a full takeover bid under German law.

ACS's offer has not met with great success so far and was formally opposed by Hochtief management on Wednesday, although chairman Herbert Luetkestratkoetter said he thought discussions with ACS "could begin shortly."

If a full offer for Hochtief is not successful once ACS has passed the level of 30 percent, the Spanish company could buy smaller amounts of the German group on the stock market and take it over little by little.

The ACS bid for Hochtief was launched on December 1 and remains valid until December 29.

© 2010 AFP

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