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Abertis consolidates French presence

The Spanish developer has paid €491m to increase its stake in a company that operates nearly a quarter of the country’s toll road network.

Abertis has increased its holding in French highway operator Sanef by exercising its preferential acquisition right for Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations’ stake in the business.

Based on a valuation of Sanef at €4.7 billion, Abertis is set to disburse €491 million for the privilege. The transaction will bring the Spanish firm’s ownership in the company from 52.55 percent to 63.07 percent.

Sanef operates over 1,760km of toll roads in the north-west of France, Normandie and Aquitaine, accounting for 22 percent of the country's total network. In particular, the company manages five of the seven access routes to the Paris region, which also link up northern France and the UK to Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg.

“The acquisition also demonstrates the company’s ability to deliver growth within its existing asset base with financial discipline, while at the same time lowering its operational risk profile, and rebalancing its global portfolio by increasing the weight of developed markets,” Abertis said.

The news comes after the developer sold a fifth of its Chilean assets to the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority last October for €495 million. Chile became the company’s third-largest market, behind France and Spain, after the group acquired Autopista Central for €948 million in January.

Earlier this month, Abertis made its entry in India, acquiring two major Indian toll roads from funds managed by Macquarie and State Bank of India for €128 million.