Investigation into Impregilo/Salini deal

By Helen Wright19 October 2012

Italy’s competition authority, Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM), has launched an investigation into the strategic agreement between contractors Impregilo and Salini.

AGCM said the agreement – which was reached at the end of September after Salini’s protracted battle to gain control of publicly-listed Impregilo – could prevent proper competition in future tenders.

“The agreement is anti-competitive where the joint definition of the selection process and subsequent participation in tenders of interest to both parties is concerned,” AGCM said.

Both companies agreed to embark on joint commercial strategies in domestic and international markets, and said they planned to submit joint bids for larger and more complex projects. However, the companies also said that the collaboration agreement would not constitute a merger, and they would also independently bid for projects if they wanted.

Privately-held Italian Salini won boardroom control of Impregilo in July, after building a stake of just under 30% in the contractor.

Ecorodovias sale

Meanwhile, the boards of both companies have approved the sale of 19% of Impregilo’s 29.24% stake in Brazilian toll road operator Ecorodovias for BRL2 billion (€765 million). Brazil's Primav Construções is purchasing the holding, subject to Brazilian regulatory approval.

“The approval of the agreement is a fundamental step in the implementation of the company’s new strategic guidelines, which envisage the sale of non-core assets and a re-focusing of group operations on the construction business,” Impregilo said in a statement.

It added that it had received an offer for an additional 3.7% stake in from BTG Pactual at a price of BRL16.50 (€6.2) per share – a transaction which it is currently finalising. Impregilo said the total value of both transactions combined would be around €900 million.

During its battle for control of Impregilo, Salini had originally opposed the sale of Ecorodovias shares, arguing that the move could translate into a loss. Salini also criticised the fact that Impregilo had given its approval to the single bid from Primav for the 19%, rather than selling the stake through a competitive process.

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