Aena admits aborted bid for Abertis

A rival offer to Atlantia’s €16bn move was rejected by the Spanish government body that owns the airport operator.

The Madrid government has blocked a surprise bid for Spanish toll road operator Abertis by the country’s airport operator, Aena.

Shares of Abertis and Aena were briefly suspended this morning after local newspaper Expansión revealed Aena was considering a bid to rival the €16.3 billion offer tabled by Italian firm Atlantia in May.

The trading restrictions were lifted after Aena confirmed its interest in Abertis but said such plans had been vetoed by Enaire, the government body that owns 51 percent of the airport operator, due to the capital required.

Aena said Enaire had “unanimously decided to reject this potential acquisition” on the grounds of “contribution to the public interest”, as well as the need to gain approval from Spain’s Council of Ministers to widen the public body’s corporate interests. The committee had also met to discuss the financial viability of a bid considered to be an important economic and strategic operation.

Aena operates 46 airports in Spain plus 15 sites in Mexico, Jamaica and Colombia. It also owns a share in the UK’s Luton Airport. Abertis, which manages more than 8,600km of roads across the world, exited its airport business in 2015, a portfolio that used to include hubs in Chile, Stockholm and Belfast.

Aena is the latest to consider battling Atlantia for control of Abertis. Spanish press this month reported a possible joint offer from Globalvia and JPMorgan, although the pair are said to have since cooled their interest.

Atlantia remains the frontrunner and this month launched a €1 billion bond issuance with a 10-year maturity to help finance its offer. It is scheduled to hold a meeting next month to inform shareholders of a planned capital increase to also pay for the deal.