CVC mulls bid for airports

PRIVATE equity firm CVC is plotting a €12bn (£10.2bn) takeover bid for Spanish airport and road operator Abertis, it emerged yesterday.

CVC has begun talks about financing the deal and is thought to be planning to make an approach to the group in January.

Abertis runs Luton, Cardiff and Belfast International airports in the UK following its acquisition in 2005 of airport operator TBI, which also had eight international airports including Stockholm Skavsta, La Paz, Santa Cruz and Cochabamba airports in Bolivia and Orlando Sanford in the US.

It also runs toll roads in France, Spain, Italy and Portugal, as well as telecom businesses and car parks.

CVC Capital Partners spent €1.7bn buying a 15.5 per cent stake in the toll-road operator in August from Spanish builder ACS, which retained an indirect holding of 10.28 per cent.

An earlier three-way deal involving CVC, ACS and savings bank La Caixa, which controls a 28 per cent stake in Abertis, to launch a debt-funded buyout failed in July after banks baulked at the €5bn of credit required.

La Caixa said when the CVC-ACS deal was agreed that it would remain a core shareholder in Abertis.

CVC is thought to have been working on securing the debt since its previous bid failed in the summer, and it will launch a new bid when it has the financing in place.

CVC is believed to need Abertis to be unlisted for it to work as a private equity investment and to transfer a stake to its infrastructure fund.

CVC, Abertis, La Caixa and ACS all declined to comment yesterday.