October 12, 2017 / 8:08 PM / 2 years ago

Exclusive: ACS to launch cash-and-share bid for Abertis next week - sources

FRANKFURT/DUESSELDORF (Reuters) - Spanish builder ACS (ACS.MC) will launch next week a cash-and-share offer for toll road operator Abertis ABE.MC, sources said on Thursday, complicating a rival bid by Italy’s Atlantia (ATL.MI).

The sources said the offer was expected to be roughly half in cash and the rest in newly issued shares in German construction group Hochtief (HOTG.DE), which is controlled by ACS.

Both ACS and Hochtief declined to comment.

Atlantia unveiled in May a 17 billion euro ($20 billion) cash-and-share offer for Abertis, prompting ACS to announce shortly afterwards it was considering a counterbid.

Atlantia’s offer was formally launched on Tuesday, a day after being approved by Spain’s market regulator, and runs until Oct. 24. On Friday, EU authorities are also expected to give a green light to the deal, which would create the world’s largest toll-road operator.

Shares in Abertis closed little changed at 17.43 euros each, giving the group a market value of 15.89 billion euros.

Earlier on Thursday, people close to the matter had said Hochtief’s supervisory board would discuss a possible offer at a meeting on Wednesday.

To help finance a potential deal, Hochtief would launch a multi-billion euro capital increase, in which parent ACS would not take part and therefore see its 72 percent stake diluted, the people said.

Under Spanish rules, any alternative suitors have until Thursday to present their own offer for Abertis.

Shares in Hochtief closed down 0.3 percent at 139.55 euros each.

Atlantia is offering 16.50 euros in cash or 0.697 Atlantia shares for each Abertis share. But the offer is conditional on shareholders owning between 10 percent and 23 percent of the Spanish company’s capital accepting the share offer.

Though the offer has been described as “friendly” by Atlantia, shareholders in Abertis have not expressed a view on the proposal.

The board of the Spanish company must publish its assessment of the bid within 10 days from its start.

The top shareholder in Abertis is Criteria Caixa, the financial arm of a politically connected and powerful banking foundation that controls Catalonia’s largest lender Caixabank (CABK.MC).

Additional reporting by Jose Elias Rodriguez in Madrid, writing by Valentina Za, editing by David Evans

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