ACS may lift Abertis stake to just under 30 percent

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Leading Spanish builder said it is keen to increase stake in the country's largest toll-road operator.

3 April 2008

MADRID - Leading Spanish builder ACS said Tuesday it is interested in increasing its stake in Abertis, the country's largest toll-road operator, to just below the 30-percent level that would trigger a mandatory bid.

Abertis' core shareholders, Spanish savings bank La Caixa and ACS, recently increased their holdings in the motorway concession company to 29 and 25.8 percent, respectively, after buying the stake held by Caixa Catalunya between them.

Speaking to reporters after Abertis' annual shareholders meeting, ACS chairman Florentino Pérez said the builder could gradually raise its stake further provided the price was right.

Eyes on Brisa
Prior to the AGM, chief executive officer Salvador Alemany said Abertis wanted Portuguese toll-road operator Brisa to form part of its plans to build up a large European concession-holding group. Abertis has a 14.6-percent stake in Brisa.

"A minority interest only makes sense in the long term if we leave the door open for ever-closer collaboration, and if necessary, a tie-up," Alemany said.

Chairman Isidre Fainé said Abertis had sufficient financial clout for expansion and was not concerned by the global credit crunch. Abertis refinanced its debt last year and will sign a new EUR 1 billion credit line on Friday.

[El Pais / Expatica]

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