Hochtief to Buy More Leighton Stock After Raising Stake

Hochtief AG, Germany’s largest construction company, said it will buy more stock in Leighton Holdings Ltd. after raising its stake in the Australian builder to almost 55 percent for about A$74 million ($69 million).

Hochtief, which is controlled by Madrid-based Actividades de Construccion & Servicios SA, purchased about 4.8 million shares in Sydney-based Leighton, the companies said in separate statements, without specifying a price. Leighton fell 2.2 percent to A$15.45 at the close in Sydney, valuing the purchase at A$74.2 million.

“We see Leighton as a strategic investment and as our core business,” because of “excellent growth opportunities and a very good market position,” Hochtief Chief Executive Officer Marcelino Fernandez Verdes said in his company’s statement. “We intend to further increase our share in Leighton.”

The German company has been consolidating shareholdings after agreeing to sell its airport business to Public Sector Pension Investment Board of Canada in May. The transaction will give Essen-based Hochtief a 1.1 billion-euro windfall upon completion. The German builder announced plans June 14 to buy back as much as 260 million euros of shares by mid-December, increasing its stake in itself to 10 percent. That will boost the voting rights held by parent ACS to almost 60 percent.

Hochtief rose as much as 0.6 percent to 50.46 euros at 9:37 a.m. in Frankfurt. The stock has gained 15 percent this year, valuing the builder at 3.88 billion euros.

The company, whose past projects include Frankfurt’s Commerzbank tower, has been the majority shareholder in Leighton since 2001, according to its website. Its voting rights in Leighton increased to 54.96 percent from 54.29 percent, according to an Australian filing.

ACS currently owns 49.9 percent of Hochtief’s outstanding shares with 54.3 percent of the voting rights, according to the company’s website.

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