PE-Backed Abertis Plans to Spin Off Unit

Spanish infrastructure firm Abertis, which is backed by private equity firm CVC, is studying a plan to spin off its car parking and logistics units, Reuters said, attributing the plan to CVC’s desire to extract value from the company. Abertis plans to create a new unlisted subsidiary, Saba Infraestructuras, which will comprise its car parks and logistics parks businesses and would allow new institutional investors to contribute, Reuters wrote. CVC owns roughtly $15.5% of Abertis.

(Reuters) – Spanish infrastructure firm Abertis (ABE.MC) is studying a plan to spin off its car parking and logistics units in the latest sign of the influence its new, dividend-hungry private equity shareholder is exerting.

Investors had been expecting a strategy change in Abertis since private equity fund CVC [CVC.UL] bought a 15.5 percent stake last year and pledged to extract value from the company, which also runs tollways, airports and telecommunications assets.

“By targeting private investors such as infrastructure funds and specialist real estate firms, Abertis thinks they may be able to raise more cash than through a listing,” Exane BNP Paribas analyst Nicolas Mora said.

Abertis plans to create a new unlisted subsidiary, Saba Infraestructuras, that will comprise its current car parks and logistics parks businesses and would allow new institutional investors, along with Abertis shareholders, to invest in it.

Mora values Saba at 13 times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) at an enterprise value just short of 1 billion euros. He said a stock market listing would probably not fetch more than 10 times EBITDA.

Abertis reports 2010 results on Thursday, with analysts expecting on average full year EBITDA of 2.48 billion euros ($3.40 billion), according to a Thomson Reuters poll.

By 0850 GMT, Abertis’ shares were up 1.4 percent at 14.61 euros, the top gainer on Madrid’s blue chip index .IBEX.

To kick off the transaction, Barcelona-based Abertis said it would offer a special dividend to be paid in the form of new Saba Infraestructuras shares or cash.

Following the deal, all of its businesses would be grouped under two divisions: Abertis, which will remain listed on the stock market with its current shareholder structure, and Saba.