CVC buys into Abertis for €1.7bn

A bank syndicate including fellow Abertis shareholder La Caixa, financial advisor Mediobanca, Santander and Société Générale are providing €1.5bn in debt to help fund CVC’s purchase of a 16% stake in the infrastructure company.

Spanish infrastructure group ACS has sold part of its stake in toll road operator Abertis to CVC Capital Partners in a €1.7 billion deal that started life as a €12 billion leveraged buyout.

CVC: Abertis'
second largest
shareholder

ACS, which owned 25.83 percent of Abertis, will transfer its stake to two investment vehicles at a price of €15 per Abertis share or €2.86 billion. Following the transfer, ACS’ stake will be diluted to 10.28 percent (€1.16 billion) with CVC owning the remaining 15.55 percent (€1.7 billion) in a transaction that values Abertis at about €11 billion. Abertis had a pre-deal market capitalisation of €9 billion, according to the Financial Times.

CVC will have 60 percent of the voting rights in the two investment vehicles.

A syndicate of banks comprising main Abertis shareholder La Caixa, financial advisor Mediobanca, Santander and Société Générale are providing €1.5 billion of debt for the deal. That amount breaks down into a three-year, €1.25 billion facility and a one-year, €250 million tranche. La Caixa continues to be Abertis’ main shareholder with 28.5 percent of the stock.

The stake sale puts an end to one of the summer’s hottest infrastructure deals which was originally conceived as a €12 billion leveraged buyout involving Abertis’ main shareholders – La Caixa and ACS – and CVC. The buyout was originally set to be funded with about €8 billion of bank debt and €4 billion in equity from the consortium members.

But Mediobanca found it difficult to get banks to commit financing, in part because of their reticence to being exposed to the troubled Spanish economy, diminishing the original debt package down to just over €5bn. In the end, even that amount was proving troublesome, which prompted the deal to steadily mutate from a three-way leveraged buyout to a stake sale from ACS to CVC.

At the height of the transaction, between 14 and 20 banks were said to be looking at the deal, which was ultimately closed by a four-bank syndicate.

At a recent half-yearly results presentation, Abertis said it had increased its net profit by 5 percent to €335 million in relation to the previous comparable period. It also said that traffic across its roads network, from which it derives the majority of its revenues, fell by 0.7 percent during the first six months of the year.

Abertis’ assets include several toll roads in Spain, France and South America in addition to airports, parking lots and telecommunications infrastructure.