CVC Considers Joining ACS in Bid for Spain's Abertis

  • ACS is working to form a consortium to buy toll-road operator
  • Counterbid for Abertis would challenge Atlantia’s offer

A driver pays a road tariff at a toll booth machine operated by Abertis Infraestructuras SA on a highway in Granollers, Spain.

Photographer: Pau Barrena/Bloomberg

CVC Capital Partners is among firms considering joining forces with ACS to make an offer for Spanish toll-road operator Abertis Infraestructuras SA, according to people familiar with the matter.

ACS, as Madrid-based builder ACS Actividades de Construccion y Servicios SA is known, is talking to the buyout firm and other potential investors as it weighs a cash-and-stock offer to challenge a 16.3 billion euro ($19 billion) approach from Italy’s Atlantia SpA and keep Abertis in Spanish hands, the people said.

Partners would contribute at least 6 billion euros in equity to a bid, the people said, asking not to be identified because the plans are private. It wasn’t immediately clear how much equity ACS would contribute to an offer. The structure of the consortium may not be decided until the fall, and the companies haven’t made a final decision about whether to pursue a bid, they said.

The builder would prefer to acquire only a minority stake in Barcelona-based Abertis in order to avoid consolidating Abertis’s debt on to its own balance sheet, one of the people said. Representatives for CVC and ACS declined to comment.

Click here for Gadfly’s analysis of a possible ACS bid.

ACS may also consider injecting its concessions and infrastructure unit Iridium into Abertis in exchange for shares as part of the deal, one of the people said. The company, whose bid is already fully underwritten by banks, may discuss the potential offer at its board meeting this week, another of the people said.

Criteria Caixa SA, Abertis’s top shareholder, believes Atlantia’s bid is too low and is open to rival offers, the people said. The Spanish government may also prefer a domestic buyer for Abertis, which is considered a strategic asset because of its infrastructure assets and satellite business, Hispasat, people familiar with the matter have said.

ACS, led by Real Madrid football club chairman Florentino Perez, and CVC have owned shares in Abertis in the past. In 2010, ACS agreed to sell a 15.6 percent stake in Abertis to CVC, which the private equity firm sold a few years later.

— With assistance by Rodrigo Orihuela

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