Chinese Group Is Among Bidders for Portugal’s Brisa Stake

(Bloomberg) -- A Chinese group led by China State Construction Engineering Corp. is among suitors for Portuguese highway operator Brisa, in what could become one of the largest European infrastructure deals this year, according to people familiar with the matter.

The state-owned company has formed a consortium with Chinese investment fund CNIC Corp. and China-Portuguese-Speaking Countries Cooperation Development Fund, said the people, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. More investors could join the Chinese group, which is working with an adviser on the deal, the people said.

Other bidders include Spanish infrastructure firm Global Via Infraestructuras SA, Japan’s Marubeni Corp., as well as Spain’s Abertis Infraestructuras SA, which has formed a bidding group with Singaporean wealth fund GIC Pte., the people said. They could be joining buyout and infrastructure funds such as Ardian SAS, who has teamed up with toll road operator ASTM SpA, according to the people.

Dutch financial services provider APG is also considering a binding bid for the business, the people said. Management presentations have taken place and potential bidders including the Chinese group are preparing to submit binding offers within the next few weeks, the people said.

Brisa’s owners, Arcus Infrastructure Partners and Portugal’s family-run Jose de Mello Group, have been discussing selling about 80% of Brisa, which could be valued at about 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion), people familiar with the matter have said.

Deliberations are ongoing and the bidders could still decide against submitting a binding offer, the people said. Representatives for Abertis, Arcus, GIC, Globalvia, Marubeni and ASTM declined to comment, while representatives for China State Construction Engineering, CNIC, China-Portuguese-Speaking Countries Cooperation Development Fund and APG didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Brisa and its affiliates operate 1,628 kilometers (1,012 miles) of roads in Portugal, including a network of 17 motorways. Its main Portuguese subsidiary Brisa-Concessao Rodoviaria SA, which runs 12 motorways in the country, reported net income rose 36% in the first half of last year to 83.2 million euros. The unit’s net debt was 1.84 billion euros at the end of June, according to a July presentation.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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