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Brisa Investors Weigh Keeping Shares After Delisting Request

A group of minority investors in Brisa-Auto Estradas de Portugal SA is holding onto its stock even after the biggest shareholder requested a delisting, as they bet on continued dividends and a higher share price if Portugal’s biggest toll-road operator returns to the market.

The investors “may be happy to remain as shareholders, get paid dividends and wait for the company to return to the stock market at a later date,” Francisco Goarmon, a trader at Probolsa in Lisbon, said by phone today.

Tagus Holdings Sarl, controlled by one of Portugal’s richest families, and Aeif Apollo Sarl secured an 85 percent stake in Brisa and 92 percent of voting rights in August after completing a 2.76 euro-a-share offer. The Tagus bid valued Brisa at 1.66 billion euros ($2.2 billion).

Brisa is likely to pay dividends to help Tagus repay part of the debt from its bid, Goarmon said.

Tagus asked securities regulator CMVM on Sept. 4 to remove Brisa’s public company status. Under Portuguese rules, a shareholder with more than 90 percent of voting rights after a takeover can make such a request.

Investors who have built or held onto stakes in Brisa may also “be hoping the securities regulator will ask Tagus to voluntarily buy the remaining stake in Brisa before removing it from trading,” Goarmon said.

Espirito Santo Portugal Accoes, one of Portugal’s seven equity funds invested exclusively in domestic stocks, raised its stake in Brisa in September, according to data on the website of Portugal’s securities regulator CMVM.

Domestic Funds

Alves Ribeiro-Medias Empresas Portugal, another domestic fund, held onto its 20,000 Brisa shares in September while the remaining five funds that invest only in Portuguese stocks no longer held stakes in the toll-road operator, data from CMVM showed. The seven domestic funds have a combined 144 million euros under management.

“Some investors may have bought Brisa shares after they declined when the Tagus bid was completed and could be waiting to receive a better price in the future,” Pedro Oliveira, a trader at Go Bulling in Lisbon, said today.

Brisa has declined almost 30 percent since Aug. 9, when the Lisbon-based company announced the results of the offer. The stock traded at 1.92 euros, down 3 percent, at 2:12 p.m. in Lisbon, near the company’s base in the suburb of Sao Domingos de Rana.

Jose Valente, fund manager for Espirito Santo Portugal Accoes, and Paulo Monteiro, who manages the Alves Ribeiro-Medias Empresas Portugal fund, were not immediately available for comment.

CMVM Chairman Carlos Tavares said Sept. 27 the law was not clear about shareholder rights in the case of a delisting. An official at CMVM said today that the Tagus request is under review.

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