Abertis won't be 'carved up' in joint takeover, acquirer says


Madrid (AFP)

Italy's Atlantia and Spain's ACS won't "carve up" highway operator Abertis, which they have agreed to take over, but will create "the biggest infrastructure and concessions company in the world," ACS's president pledged Thursday.

Construction group ACS and highway operator Atlantia had for months been vying for Abertis, which has more than 8,300 kilometres (5,100 miles) of highways in 12 countries in Europe and the Americas.

But on Wednesday, they put their rivalries aside and announced a joint takeover, which values Spain's Abertis at 18.1 billion euros ($22.3 billion).

"We didn't reach this deal to carve up Abertis and divvy up the assets," Florentino Perez, president of ACS, Spain's biggest construction firm, told reporters.

"We have created a long-term project, and intend it to last forever."

Spanish media and several analysts had over the past days speculated that Abertis may be carved up between ACS and Atlantia, with for instance its Spanish highways going to ACS and the Italian ones to Atlantia.

Instead, both groups will create a holding company with 7 billion euros in capital to oversee Abertis.

The Italian firm will hold 50 percent plus one share, while ACS and its Hochtief subsidiary will own the rest.

Perez, a powerful business tycoon who is also president of the Real Madrid football club, said the aim was for Abertis to become "the biggest construction group at a global level and the biggest portfolio of concessions in the world."

"The company will be Spanish," he added.

Its president will be picked by ACS and its director-general by Atlantia.

Nominations will take place "in the coming days," Perez said.