Atlantia makes €16bn offer for Abertis

The Spanish developer’s cornerstone investor Criteria has yet to back the bid, which would create a company with 14,000km of highways under management.

Italian toll road specialist Atlantia today offered to acquire Spanish rival Abertis for €16.3 billion.

The Benetton-family controlled company is ready to pay €16.5 for every Abertis share, a bid 0.3 percent higher than the operator’s closing price on Friday.

The offer is structured as an all-cash offer, though it also includes an equity option that would allow existing shareholders to own up to 23.2 percent of the combined entity’s capital. That is roughly equal to the current share of Abertis held by Criteria, the Barcelona-based holding of financial group Caixa, which has yet to provide its backing to the bid.

Any investor taking up the share swap offer would not be able to offload their stake before February 2019.

Should Abertis’ shareholders accept Atlantia’s “friendly” offer, the acquisition will create a group with more than 14,000km of toll roads under management across 19 countries. The Spanish firm would remain a Madrid-listed entity with separate headquarters and management.

“Should the offer be successful, the combined group will result in a very strong cashflow generation capacity and ability to invest, which together with our unique geographic presence, will allow us to be the most suitable partner to address the needs of the relevant institutions and customers,” said Giovanni Castellucci, Atlantia’s chief executive.

The transaction would allow Atlantia to diversify away from its home market, while giving Abertis some more avenues for growth, with the latter set to inherit from the former’s South American holdings as part of the offer.

The tender comes nearly 10 years after a first, €25 billion attempt to combined the two companies was eventually opposed by the Italian government.