Hochtief AG, Germany’s largest builder, is reviving the sale of its airport-operating business and has invited potential buyers to submit offers, according to three people familiar with the matter.
Hochtief, based in Essen, is working with Deutsche Bank AG on the sale, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the process is private. The invitation calls for indicative offers by the end of March, according to two of the people.
Last year, Hochtief shelved a sale of the airports unit for a second time after failing to get the price it wanted amid a struggling European economy. During that auction, bidders including Vinci SA, Europe’s biggest builder, and China’s HNA Group, offered more than 1 billion euros ($1.32 billion) for the unit, while Hochtief valued it at as much as 1.6 billion euros, people familiar with the process said at the time.
Shares surged 2.1 percent in less than five minutes after Bloomberg News first report Hochtief’s plans. That increase helped them recoup some of their losses today. They were down 0.82 percent at 54.53 at 3:42 p.m. in Frankfurt, valuing the company at 4.2 billion euros.
Hochtief owns stakes in six airports serving cities including Hamburg, Dusseldorf, Budapest and Tirana. Fraport AG, the owner of the Frankfurt airport, also said in August 2011 that it and RREEF had submitted a bid for the non-German airport assets. Fraport spokesman Robert Payne declined to comment on whether the company will participate in the process.
The German construction company plans to invite indicative offers from bidders including Fraport and Deutsche Bank’s RREEF investment unit, Global Infrastructure Partners and Allianz SE’s investment arm, which teamed up last time, as well as the operators of the Shanghai and Singapore Changi airports, said one of the people.
Hochtief spokesman Bernd Puetter says the company is aware of “speculation in the market” and cannot comment. Christian Streckert, a spokesman for Deutsche Bank declined to comment. Tim Oliver Ambrosius, a Frankfurt-based spokesman for RREEF declined to comment. Allianz spokeswoman Stefanie Rupp-Menedetter declined to comment. Officials at GIP and the Singapore and Shanghai airports couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.
Hochtief Chief Financial Officer Peter Sassenfeld, who used to run the global mergers and acquisitions activities at Bayer AG, said in November that the company is considering selling the airports individually.
“Some of Hochtief’s airports, like Dusseldorf, Hamburg or Sydney, are very attractive for investors, while others, like Budapest and Athens, clearly are not,´´ Norbert Kretlow, an analyst at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt, said. ‘‘The price paid for the airports in Portugal shows there is good appetite for airports at the moment.´´
Vinci SA, Europe’s biggest builder, in December agreed to buy airport operator ANA-Aeroportos de Portugal SA for 3.1 billion euros. The transaction values the target at 15.25 times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, according to data collected by Bloomberg.
Hochtief is majority owned by Spanish builder Actividades de Construccion y Servicios SA.