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Infraestructuras / Construcción

Abertis on track to end sell-off programme.

Abertis, the world’s largest toll road operator, hopes to draw a line under its multibillion-euro divestment programme by the end of this year, when the Barcelona-based infrastructure group aims to have sold its last remaining airport assets.

The Spanish company, which began its disposal programme in 2011, is looking to sell its 75 per cent stake in Montego Bay airport, Jamaica, and the 5 per cent stake it holds indirectly in Mexico’s Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacífico.

“We are currently running due diligence with some potential buyers and it is our intention to complete [the sales process] by the end of 2014,” Francisco Reynés, chief executive, told the Financial Times.

The group is also planning to sell off its remaining 5 per cent stake in Eutelsat, the French satellite group. Abertis used to have more than a 30 per cent stake but decided to sell out when it concluded the French government, with a 26 per cent stake, was unlikely to let it take control of the business.

Abertis has made a string of disposals since 2011, including the bulk of its airports and its car parks and logistics operations.

Analysts estimate that the sale of the remaining three non-core assets could raise about €600m which would bring the total proceeds from the three-year long disposal programme to more than €4.5bn.

Although it has used some of the proceeds to restructure its balance sheet, it has also spent €4.5bn in the same period on acquisitions.

Revenues for 2013 rose 25 per cent to €4.65bn with Ebidta up a similar amount to €2.92bn. Net profits were down 40 per cent however to €617m as a result of the disposal programme – on an underlying basis net profit rose 7 per cent.

Its biggest deal in 2012, took it into the Brazilian and Chilean toll road markets and made it the world’s largest toll road operator in terms of revenues and length of network. The move was designed to help it diversify away from its domestic market, where traffic volumes have only just started to recover after six years of declines.

It is looking to increase its exposure to the Brazilian market, where the government has plans to build 7,500km of new toll roads.

Mr Reynés has also focused the group on communications infrastructure. Last year, it completed a €385m deal to buy more than 4,000 towers used for mobile phone and radio and TV transmissions. It also spent more than €170m on a 16 per cent stake in Hispasat, the Spanish-based satellite operator, giving it control of the satellite operator.

Mr Reynés said he expected consolidation in the satellite sector and would look at other opportunities to grow Hispasat.

“We could be a consolidator or be consolidated,” he said. “Hispasat is a well-managed company but is not large enough to be a consolidator at the moment. We think there is room for Hispasat to grow in the next three years.“

Abertis is hoping to break into the Australian market and is awaiting the outcome of its bid to run five motorways near Brisbane.  

Autor: Financial Times