Atlantia Said to Seek Up to $8.6 Billion Financing for Abertis

(Bloomberg) -- Atlantia SpA is seeking as much as 8 billion euros ($8.6 billion) in financing to help fund a cash-and-stock bid for Abertis Infraestructuras SA, according to people familiar with the matter, in a deal that would create a European toll-road giant.

The offer may include as much as 10 billion euros in cash, with the rest in stock, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the deliberations are private. Atlantia, controlled by Italy’s Benetton family, had discussed a valuation of about 16 billion euros for Abertis before Bloomberg reported its interest, people familiar with the matter said previously.

Atlantia may fund part of the bid by selling some non-core Abertis assets, one of the people said. The Italian company is currently selling a 15 percent stake in its Autostrade per L’Italia SpA unit to fund international expansion. No final decisions about price has been made, and Atlantia is still discussing the structure of an offer with advisers, the people said.

Rome-based Atlantia proposed various combinations of cash and stock in a preliminary meeting with Abertis as the companies explored a deal, Abertis said in a statement on Wednesday. Atlantia’s presentation didn’t amount to a concrete proposal and no valuation has been set, Abertis said. 

While Atlantia could consider a higher offer, it believes about 16 billion euros is a fair value, one of the people said. Atlantia may offer more than 17 billion euros, Spanish newspaper Expansion reported, citing unnamed financial advisers. 

Representatives for Abertis and Atlantia declined to comment.

Criteria Stake

Criteria Caixa SAU, currently the largest shareholder in Abertis with about 22 percent, would likely retain a stake of about 15 percent in the new company, a person familiar with the matter had said. Another 8 percent is owned by Abertis itself as treasury stock.

Still, Criteria Caixa Chairman Isidro Faine said Thursday that neither he nor any of the institutions he chairs has discussed a sale of Abertis so far. He said a deal made sense ten years ago when the two companies initially tried to combine to create a toll-road giant.

Abertis had previously tried to buy Atlantia’s Autostrade unit, but the deal fell apart because of Italian government opposition.

Executive Meeting

The main hurdles for an agreement include management and shareholder structure, a person familiar with the talks said previously. One structure being discussed is the creation of a holding company that would oversee Atlantia and Abertis units, another person had said.

Executives from the two companies may meet in the coming days to further discuss a potential deal, one of the people had said. While both sides are confident that the chances of an agreement are higher than in the past several years, there is some concern that the early leak could hurt negotiations, the people said. Bloomberg first reported Atlantia’s interest Apr. 18.

Atlantia Chief Executive Officer Giovanni Castellucci is considering several options to expand the company internationally and reduce its dependence on Italy. A combination with Abertis would boost Atlantia’s earnings before interests, taxes, depreciation and amortization from international operations to 60 percent of the total from the current 25 percent, according to Equita analysts.