Spanish ACS closes in on Hochtief deal

City A.M. Reporter
SPANISH builder ACS has secured a crucial 30 per cent holding in Hochtief following a hotly contested takeover bid, allowing it to build a controlling interest in the German construction group.

The Spanish construction group wants to get control of Hochtief’s strong balance sheet to ease the burden of its own debt of more than €9bn (£7.7bn), and continue to diversify away from Spain’s struggling construction and property sectors.

Hochtief is not the only iron ACS has in the fire. It is also pursuing board seats at Iberdrola by increasing its stake in the Spanish utility, which would allow it to consolidate a proportion of Iberdrola’s earnings.

ACS said yesterday it holds 30.34 per cent in Hochtief, adding it had extended its bid to 18 January in an attempt to get more shareholders to accept its all-share offer.

Its improved nine-for-five share offer closed on 29 December. By achieving the key 30 per cent threshold, German takeover rules allow ACS to buy more shares on the market without making a new formal offer for the whole of the company.

ACS , whose projects range from a dam in Puerto Rico to a Spain-France high-speed train, is aiming for a 50 per cent shareholding in Hochtief.

Hochtief’s shares fell 1.4 per cent following confirmation that ACS had achieved its goal of more than 30 per cent. Many had anticipated the result after US investor Southeastern Asset Management, which has holdings in both companies, said it would tender half its Hochtief shares to the bid.