FCC in tie-up with billionaire-owned Mexican group

The Spanish developer will hunt for construction projects in America ex-Mexico.

Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas (FCC) has signed a joint venture with Grupo Carso, a conglomerate owned by Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim.

The tie-up, approved by the Spanish developer’s shareholders during its annual general meeting last week, will see both companies become 50-50 partners on deals in North and South America outside Mexico, FCC said in a statement. It will be solely dedicated to construction projects, a spokesperson for the company told Infrastructure Investor.

FCC sealed the agreement through FCC Concesiones, a new subsidiary created ahead of the sale of Globalvia, a transport concessions business it jointly owns with Bankia.

The disposal has since been announced, with Khazanah Nasional Berhad, the investment holding arm of the Malaysian government, agreeing to acquire Globalvia for up to €420 million. The deal remains subject to approval by the UK’s Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), Dutch pension PGGM and Canada-based OPTrust, which together own €750 million worth of bonds convertible into Globalvia shares.

Grupo Carso, for its part, entered the joint venture through its Carso Infraestructuras y Construccion unit. Carlos Slim, the world’s second-richest man according to Forbes, is already a major shareholder in FCC, of which it acquired 25.6 percent through two of its companies last year. He now owns a larger stake than the 22.4 percent held by Esther Koplowitz, who inherited the company from her late father Ernesto.

The deal followed lengthy discussions with several potential investors, including with George Soros, who is said to have been in exclusive talks with Koplowitz as late as the week prior. FCC, hard-hit by Spain’s construction slump in the wake of the Financial Crisis, had been looking to alleviate its debt burden by issuing fresh capital and selling assets.