La Caixa board meeting fails to broach Abertis buyout

A board of directors meeting held at the savings bank yesterday did not yield an announcement on a possible buyout of Abertis. Recent market speculation suggests the deal is evolving away from a buyout and into a straightforward stake sale by shareholder ACS to CVC Capital Partners.

A board of directors meeting held at Spanish savings bank La Caixa yesterday did not produce an announcement on a possible buyout of Abertis together with fellow shareholder ACS and European private equity firm CVC Capital Partners (CVC), a source close to La Caixa told Infrastructure Investor.

Abertis: buyout
looking less

This means that if a buyout is to go ahead it will not be announced before the savings bank holds its August board of directors meeting. But the lack of an announcement from yesterday’s meeting may also lend credence to some of the latest media reports about the transaction. Namely, that the buyout idea is frozen with the deal now coalescing around a straightforward sale of a significant part of ACS’ shareholding in Abertis to CVC.

According to several media reports, the possibility of a buyout is looking increasingly less likely due to financing difficulties. 

Originally, the consortium was said to be planning an offer of €12 billion to buy Abertis, which had a pre-negotiations market capitalisation of close to €9 billion, according to the Financial Times. The offer would be funded with some €8 billion in debt and €4 billion in cash from the three consortium members.

The debt contingent was then said to have decreased to just above the €5 billion mark, reflecting banks’ reticence to being exposed to the troubled Spanish market. But the latest reports suggest even €5 billion is proving hard to get. Italy’s Mediobanca is putting together the bank club with between 14 and 20 banks thought to be looking at the deal.

As such, the latest rumours suggest that CVC is now looking at buying about 20 percent of ACS’ near-26 percent shareholding in Abertis. ACS currently holds 22.8 percent of Abertis after it lent a 3 percent stake to French bank Société Générale with La Caixa owning 28.5 percent of the Spanish firm.

Officially, ACS and La Caixa – Abertis’ main shareholders – have only confirmed they are looking into ways of bringing CVC into Abertis’ capital and that a buyout is one of the possibilities to make that happen.

At yesterday’s 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.