Astaldi, Turkey Partner Are Said to Mull Venture Stake Sale

Updated on
  • Firms are said to be in talks for new $3.2 billion loan
  • Istanbul bridge operator said to seek concession extension

Astaldi SpA and Turkey’s IC Yatirim Holding AS are considering selling a stake in the operator of a suspension bridge and network of roads that could result in the Italian construction company exiting the project, according to four people with knowledge of the matter.

The partners have hired Morgan Stanley and Citigroup Inc. to manage the process, said three of the people, who asked not to be identified as the plans are confidential. Astaldi may end up disposing of its entire 36 percent stake, while IC Yatirim is mulling a partial sale of the balance it holds, the people said.

The companies are also working with local and international banks, including a Chinese lender, to refinance a $2.3 billion loan due in 2022, said the people. The new facility will be around $3.2 billion, two of the people said. It will have a maturity long enough to cover a possible two-year extension of the concession, which is being negotiated with the government, they said.

Astaldi shares rose 3.8 percent to 5.98 euros in Milan trading, the highest since Sept. 21.

Spokesmen at IC Yatirim and Morgan Stanley declined to comment, while Citigroup wasn’t immediately able to comment.

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The venture, formally known as IC Ictas Astaldi 3 Bogaz Koprusu Yatirim ve Isletme AS, won rights in 2012 to operate the the 1.4-kilometer (0.9-mile) bridge across Istanbul’s Bosporus strait and a network of around 60 kilometers of roads for 10 years and three months. The bridge, named after Ottoman Sultan Selim the Grim, known in Turkish as Yavuz Sultan Selim, who ruled in the 16th century, opened in August 2016 to ease traffic congestion in the city of more than 17 million.

Astaldi has been selling assets to reduce debt and has already reached the 2017 target of divestment by selling more than 200 million euros ($236 million) since September 2016, Chairman Paolo Astaldi said in an interview in March. The Rome-based company extended in June its debt deadlines through the placement of non-guaranteed, equity-linked bonds expiring in 2024 and the repurchase of bonds already in circulation.

The Turkish government compensates the companies when traffic on the bridge falls short of 135,000 vehicles. As of July, daily crossings were at slightly more than 100,000 vehicles, a level reached a year earlier than projections, daily newspaper Hurriyet reported, citing Transport Minister Ahmet Arslan.

IC Ictas Astaldi has another loan of $420 million it took in 2016 for the same project. Both loans were provided by Turkish banks, including Turkiye Garanti Bankasi AS, which acted as agent in both deals, Turkiye Is Bankasi AS, Yapi ve Kredi Bankasi AS, and state lenders Turkiye Halk Bankasi AS, Turkiye Vakiflar Bankasi TAO and TC Ziraat Bankasi AS, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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