22 May 2017

Atlantia to acquire Abertis Infraestructuras

Italian toll road operator Atlantia has made a EUR 16,341 million offer to acquire France’s Abertis Infraestructuras as it seeks to expand outside its home country, where business growth has slowed in recent years. According to Zephyr, the M&A database published by Bureau van Dijk, this is Atlantia’s biggest transaction to date and is the largest takeover of a toll operator worldwide.

The combined entity, which is expected to yield about 60 per cent of its earnings outside Italy, will be Europe’s largest toll road companywith a market value of over EUR 36,000 million, according to Reuters. This comes as Abertis’ road concessions are nearing their expiry date, prompting the group to open its doors for other business opportunities, the news provider reported. 

Atlantia has not entered into a formal agreement and is still in talks with CaixaBank, which currently controls 22 per cent of Albertis. The buyer is paying EUR 16.50 per share in cash or scrip, representing a 7.9 per cent premium to the target’s close on 13th April, the last trading day before the deal was first reported. To fund the mega-deal, the acquiror is obtaining EUR 11,000 million-worth of debt financing from four banks, including BNP Paribas and Intesa SanPaolo, people familiar with the matter told Reuters. 

Citigroup and AZ Capital are understood to be advising Abertis, while Atlantia has appointed Credit Suisse and Mediobanca to the deal.

Atlantia is concurrently planning to reduce Albertis’ 34 per cent interest in Cellnex Telecom. By owning less than a 30 per cent stake, the acquiror wants to avoid having to make a takeover offer for the telecommunication group, as would be required by Spanish law.

Besides Spain, Abertis also has operations in 13 other countries in Europe, Asia and the Americas. The group, which currently manages over 8,600 kilometres of roads worldwide, generates more than 70.0 per cent of its revenues outside its home country. It posted total profit from operations of EUR 1,946 million in the 12 months ended 31st December 2016, up significantly from the EUR 65 million loss recorded in the previous year.

The transaction came barely a month after Atlantia sold 10 per cent of motorway construction firm Autostrade per l'Italia in a deal worth around EUR 2,510 million. Silk Road Fund, alongside private equity investors Allianz Capital Partners, DIF Management and EDF Invest were the acquirors participating in the transaction. Atlantia also successfully acquired 21 per cent of Italian airport operator Save for EUR 174 million last year.

© Zephyr