Impregilo and Salini argue over Ecorodovias stake

By Chris Sleight25 June 2012

Impregilo is evaluating an offer from Brazil's Primav Construções to buy 19% of its 29.24% stake in Brazilian toll road operator Ecorodovias for BRL1.76 billion ( 690 million). The deal, along with a proposed share buy-back, has been criticised by Salini, another Italian construction group which has built a 30% stake in Impregilo over the last nine months.

Under the terms of the deal, Impregilo would retain at least one seat on the board of Ecorodovias and would have the right to veto strategic decisions. Impregilo says the deal would allow it to realise its investment in Ecorodovias while maintaining its strategic interest in the group and its partnership with Primav. Impregilo's board has instructed its CEO, Alberto Rubegini to begin negotiations for the deal.

Impregilo has also announced plans for a share buy-back, by way of a public tender to all shareholders. The company said this would give share holders a return on their investment if they sold, or raise the value of remaining shares and increase future dividends

Salini objections

However, these two proposals have been met with an angry response from Salini. It says the sale of the 19% stake in Primav could translate to a loss of up to € 800 million, compared to the potential value of the company, and also represents a sudden change in strategic direction.

Salini criticised the fact that Impregilo had given its approval to the single bid from Primav, rather than selling the stake through a competitive process. It also claimed that in the five years that Impregilo and Primav had 'co-operated' through their joint holding of Ecorodovias, no projects had been won or executed.

Salini also said the share buy-back was a thinly veiled attempt by another large shareholder, Gavio Group, to raise its stake above 30%, without being required to issue a tender offer and pay a premium to minority share holders.

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