China State Construction among bidders for Portuguese road operator

A consortium of Chinese companies led by China State Construction Engineering (CSCEC) is among the possible bidders for a €3bn stake in Brisa, Portugal’s privately owned highway operator, according to sources reported by the Bloomberg news agency.

CSCEC is understood to have allied with the CNIC Corporation investment fund and China-Portuguese-Speaking Countries Cooperation Development Fund to bid for an 80% stake in the operator, which is presently owned by Britain’s Arcus and Portugal’s Jose de Mello Group.

According to Bloomberg, other bidders include Spanish infrastructure firms GlobalVia and Abertis Infraestructuras, Japan’s Marubeni Corporation. Other funders linked with the deal include Singapore’s GIC, Ardian of France and the Macquarie Group of Australia.

In July last year, Reuters reported that GlobalVia would only bid if it were allowed to take 100% of Brisa’s shares. At that time, the sale was being initiated by Arcus, with doubts about whether Jose de Mello would be willing to part with its shareholding.

Management presentations have taken place and potential bidders including the Chinese group are preparing to submit binding offers within the next few weeks, according to Bloomberg’s sources.

Brisa and its affiliates run some 1,600km of roads in Portugal, including a network of 17 motorways.

Among the world’s biggest construction companies, CSCEC reported sales of $34bn in January alone, a year on year rise of 9.2%, according to a statement filed with the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

The total floor area under construction by CSCEC reached 1.2 billion sq m, up 13.5%.

Image: Portugal’s A5 motorway, operated by Brisa (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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