Hochtief pursues Spanish target ACS with sweeter offer

 
City A.M. Reporter
SPAIN’S ACS turned up the heat on bid target Hochtief yesterday by sweetening an all-share offer to value its German construction rival at around €4.9bn (£4.18bn).

The Spanish group, which has been stalking Hochtief since September, said it had improved its bid to nine ACS shares for every five Hochtief shares from its previous eight-for-five offer, adding it was confident the higher bid would succeed.

ACS’s amended offer was unexpected. It values Hochtief at €63.8 per share, a two per cent discount to the market price as Hochtief shares rose 1.2 per cent €65.13.

ACS shares closed 1.1 per cent down at €35.4 as its shareholders digested the move. ACS had been widely expected to let its initial offer run its course.

And in another sign that ACS wants to wrap up the takeover quickly, sources said that the chief executive of Qatar Holding, the Qatari investment vehicle which last week snapped up a 9.1 per cent stake in Hochtief, would meet ACS.

If ACS can get its holding above 30 per cent it can then gain control of Hochtief by taking its stake up to 50 per cent, without having to buy out all the German group’s shareholders.

Analysts said the move showed ACS was serious about the offer and would probably not raise its bid again, although one of Hochtief’s top 12 investors dismissed the new bid as too low.

“The current offer price is at a discount to the market price of Hochtief,” said Kathleen Dewandeleer, a fund manager at Scottish Widows.