Spanish infrastructure firm Abertis (ABE.MC) is eyeing projects in China and India to boost growth beyond its stronghold in southern Europe, but is not in a hurry for any deals, its chairman said on Thursday.
The acquisition of 13.2 percent in Spanish satellite operator Hispasat from Telefonica (TEF.MC) is still on the cards, as well as a possible merger with Portuguese highway operator Brisa (BRI.LS).
We have to be patient. These things shouldn't be forced, Salvador Alemany said on the sidelines of a conference organised by Nueva Economia.
Abertis has been seeking a merger with Brisa for some time, in which it has an about 15 percent stake, but has said it prefers a merger via a share swap and on a friendly basis.
Following its failed merger attempt with Italy's Atlantia (ATL.MI), Alemany said the company will sell its 6.7 percent of the Italian operator once another attractive investment arises.
There has to be some kind of (acquisition) deal to make the sale worth it. We're not just going to sell for the sake of it, Alemany said.
MERGER WITH ACS?
Alemany was asked if Abertis is studying a merger with infrastructure conglomerate ACS (ACS.MC) following the merger of rival motorway operator Cintra with its parent builder Ferrovial (FER.MC), which has been applauded by the market.
No one knows what the future might bring, but for the time being, no. Although I can't deny that a merger could create value and synergies in the future, Alemany said.
ACS chairman Florentino Perez, who was also present at the Nueva Economia conference, declined to comment on the possibility of a future deal with Abertis.
ACS controls 26 percent of Abertis and Ca Cheuvreux analysts have tipped a merger between the two as an attractive strategy for ACS to improve its debt position.
It would create a worldwide construction and infrastructure operator, with a very diversified structure and strong cash flow generation, as well as reduce earnings cyclicity, Ca Cheuvreux said in a research note in August.
However, such a deal would face obstacles, including the role of savings bank La Caixa, which controls 25 percent of Abertis, whose shares are currently undervalued, particularly compared to ACS, it said.
Another obstacle is ACS's publicly expressed intention to boost its stake in Spanish power giant Iberdrola (IBE.MC).
At 1043 GMT, Abertis shares rose 0.35 percent to 15.90 euros, in line with trading on Spain's leading share .IBEX, while ACS shares were down 0.2 percent at 35.04.