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Reports Saturday suggest that Spanish infrastructure company Abertis, having sold down 50 per cent of its Eutelsat holdings, wants to increase its position in Spain’s Hispasat (where Eutelsat also has a large 27.7 per cent stake).
Abertis owns 33.39 per cent of Hispasat, and Spanish newspaper Expansión talks of Abertis wanting to start talks with other shareholders – although none are specifically named – about taking control of Madrid-based Hispasat.
However, Spain’s government also holds stakes via the nation’s National Aerospace Technology Institute, SEPI (Spain’s state industrial holding company) and CDTH (Spain’s industrial technology development company). Another sensitive problem to be overcome would be Hispasat’s military role, although perhaps that could be protected via a separate company.
Telefónica’s 13.23 per cent shareholding is therefore the most likely to be under pressure for consolidation.
Nevertheless, Abertis’s strategy is far from clear. The business, which owns assets such as Luton Airport and operates toll-motorways, is heavily indebted. As at September last year, its debt load was some £13.9 billion. Private equity fund CVC owns 15.5 per cent of Abertis and seems to have pushed for the sale of various assets in order to reduce debt. Besides the Eutelsat share disposal, Abertis also sold its stake in Italian toll-road operator Atalanta for £626 million.