Qatar Sells Stake in Hochtief, Clearing Path for Spain's ACS

  • ACS buys more than half the $615 million stake sold by Qatar
  • Hochtief shares decline most in almost two months in Frankfurt

Qatar Investment Authority sold its 10 percent stake in Hochtief AG for about 540 million euros ($615 million), clearing the path for majority shareholder Actividades de Construccion & Servicios SA to consolidate the German builder into its operations.

The sovereign wealth fund disposed of 7 million shares at a price equal to 77 euros each, QIA said in a statement late on Monday. Madrid-based ACS bought about 4 million of the shares, boosting its holding in Hochtief to 66.5 percent, it said in a separate statement on Tuesday.

ACS has been strengthening its ownership of Essen-based Hochtief through a series of buybacks, four years after it first acquired a controlling stake. By purchasing shares in itself and then canceling them, Hochtief has enabled ACS to raise its stake gradually. Following a 256 million-euro program completed in 2014, Hochtief is now midway through a second buyback of as much as 10 percent of the total share capital that it aims to complete by the end of this year.

Shares Decline

Hochtief shares fell as much as 6 percent, the most since Aug. 24, and traded 5.3 percent lower at 77.42 euros as of 11:46 a.m. in Frankfurt on Tuesday. The stock has climbed 33 percent this year, valuing the company at 5.4 billion euros. ACS shares fell 0.9 percent to 28.77 euros at the same time in Madrid.

ACS, which owned 60.7 percent of Hochtief before Qatar sold its stake, is planning to set up a holding company that would enable it to merge the German company with its Dragados construction unit, Spanish newspaper El Confidencial reported in February.

QIA also acquired its stake in Hochtief in 2011, and the disposal will free up finances to buy other assets. The Qatari fund is among the groups interested in buying a minority stake in Glencore Plc’s agriculture business, people familiar with the conversations told Bloomberg News Oct. 8.

Morgan Stanley managed the institutional placement of the Hochtief shares, QIA said.

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