ACS and Atlantia agree to share $22.4bn Abertis, ending bitter bidding war

The battle for control over Abertis Infraestructuras, the Spanish company that specialises in toll roads, has ended with an agreement between ACS Group, Hochtief and Atlantia to share the spoils.

Abertis will now be run as an infrastructure consortium between the three companies, and will bid for projects around the world.

According to the agreement, Hochtief, the Essen-based contractor that is 61% owned by ACS, will purchase Abertis for $22.4bn. It will then sell a 50% holding to Italy’s motorway operator Atlantia and 30% to Spain’s ACS, retaining the remaining 20% for itself.

Representatives of Atlantia, ACS, and Hochtief said yesterday (15 March) that the partnership would allow them to bid jointly for projects in North America, Australia and Europe.

The battle between ACS, which is run by Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez, and Atlantia, which is controlled by the Benetton family, has been under way since October last year.

Both sides have fought for influence with the Spanish government, which is overseeing the deal, and both were threatening to bid up the price to the point that it exceeded the value of the company. The compromise gives both sides a share, and is understood to have the blessing of the Spanish state.

Hochtief said in a statement that the deal would create a "uniquely global, integrated infrastructure group that is expected to generate substantial growth synergies". One obvious area where Abertis will gain from the deal is Australia, where ACS and Hochtief have built up a commanding presence in the past five years.  

Abertis had a turnover over of €5.3bn in 2017, on which it made a net profit of €897m.

Image: Abertis’ Barcelona headquarters (Abertis)

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