HOCHTIEF sells Athens Airport stake to Canada’s Public Sector Pension Fund

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German constructor Hochtief sold its stakes of Athens International Airport “Eleftherios Venizelos” to Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment fund for 1.1 billion euros. Hochtief, which is controlled by Spanish ACS, has sold its Athens Airport stake in order to cut debt and invest in its infrastructure business.

The announcement

“HOCHTIEF Aktiengesellschaft, Essen, Germany, has on May 7, 2013 entered into a sale and purchase agreement with a subsidiary of the Public Sector Pension Investment Board, Canada (PSP Investments) for the sale of all shares in HOCHTIEF AirPort GmbH, Essen. The transaction will have retroactive economic effect as of January 1, 2013.

HOCHTIEF AirPort is one of the leading airport investors and managers in the world and holds participations in the airports of Athens, Budapest, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Sydney and Tirana. Combined, these airports handle approximately 95 million passengers annually.

The transaction effects a deconsolidation of assets in the value of approximately EUR 1.5 billion. This includes minority interests of some EUR 0.4 billion. The transaction proceeds are approximately EUR 1.1 billion, subject to closing adjustments. HOCHTIEF expects no significant extraordinary earnings impact from the transaction. The transaction is subject to certain conditions precedent, including approval by the competent authorities if required and other required approvals. Closing is expected in the second half of 2013.” (HOCHTIEF official statement)

It added that it expects no significant extraordinary earnings impact from the transaction, which will take retroactive effect from January 1 this year.

Sources told Reuters in April that Hochtief received bids for its airport unit.

Hochtief halted the sale early last year when it was unable to fetch a price of 1.5 billion euros ($2 billion), but revived its efforts later.

Hochtief Chief Executive Marcelino Fernandez Verdes, who took the top job in November, is leading a drive to shed airports and real estate development businesses to cut the company΄s debt while making it a leading global infrastructure provider.

Hochtief had a legal dispute with the Greek state for refusing to pay Value Added Tax, estimated to be some 500 million euro since 2001. A British court  ruled in favor of Hochtief in March 2013.

AIA sharholders scheme before sale

Main shareholder is the Greek state (HELLENIC REPUBLIC ASSET DEVELOPMENT FUND 30% & Greek state 25%) with 55%, HOCHTIEF AirPort GmbH with 26.7%, Fund HTAC with 13.3% and Copelouzos Group with 4.99%.

HOCHTIEF belongs mainly to Spanish Construction Group ACS, fund HTAC consists mainly from Canadian and Australian systemic funds.

Athens International Airport began operation on 29th March 2001. It was declared European Airport of the year 2004.

More information here and here.