ACS Sells Abertis Stake as OHL Set to Raise Holding to 14.7%

ACS-Actividades de Construccion & Servicios SA, a Spanish builder, sold 10 percent of Abertis Infraestructuras SA (ABE) for 875.3 million euros ($1.2 billion) as Obrascon Huarte Lain SA (OHL) builds a stake in the toll-highway operator.

Abertis said it bought a 5.3 percent stake from ACS in a filing late yesterday. OHL today said it took an equity swap contract with ACS for a 4.7 percent stake.

That swap would increase OHL’s total stake in Barcelona- based Abertis to 14.7 percent after the companies announced a preliminary deal on April 24 which would hand Madrid-based OHL a 10 percent holding in Abertis in exchange for a share of OHL’s business in Brazil.

Abertis shares rose 0.7 percent to 11.64 euros at 3:47 p.m. in Madrid, while OHL was suspended from trading after declining 1 percent. ACS fell 7.5 percent to 13.32 euros.

ACS, a Madrid-based construction company that is selling assets to pay down debt, estimates it had a pretax gain of 191.5 million euros from selling the 10 percent Abertis stake.

Abertis bought 41.4 million shares of its own shares from ACS for 11.21 euros each, which it said was a 4.1 percent discount to yesterday’s volume-weighted average price.

Main Shareholders

OHL will become the third-biggest shareholder in the Barcelona-based infrastructure company along with La Caixa, the owner of CaixaBank (CABK) SA. La Caixa said today its holding has temporarily risen to 31 percent as a result of the agreements although it will fall back below the 30 percent limit that would trigger a takeover bid once the deal is executed.

OHL is reducing its presence in concessions in Brazil and Chile as the pipeline for new projects in those markets wanes, Chief Financial Officer Enrique Weickert said in a conference call with analysts today. The company will target projects with higher profitability in other markets, he added.

“This will allow OHL to be Abertis’s industrial partner and shareholder and reap some synergies as it should replicate the partnership ACS and Abertis had in the past,” Banco BPI analysts Bruno Silva and Pedro Oliveira wrote in a report sent to investors today.

OHL plans to keep its 14.7 percent stake in Abertis for the long term and isn’t interested in increasing it in a significant way or in a potential merger with Abertis in the short term, Weickert said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Emma Ross-Thomas in Madrid at; Manuel Baigorri in Madrid at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at

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