Mexican billionaire to be top shareholder in big Spanish builder

GMT 21:08 2014 Thursday ,27 November

Arab Today, arab today Mexican billionaire to be top shareholder in big Spanish builder

Mexican businessman Carlos Slim
Madrid - AFP

Mexican telecoms magnate Carlos Slim, the world's second-richest man, will invest 650 million ($800 million) euros to become the main shareholder in Spain's big but debt-laden builder FCC, the company said Thursday.
Under the deal Slim will hold a 25.64 percent stake in the company, one of Spain's largest employers, while the just over 50 percent controlling stake of the firm's current top shareholder, Esther Koplowitz, will be reduced to 24.42, FCC said in a statement
FCC said it will sell the shares as part of a one billion euro ($1.25 billion) capital increase, carried out to reduce debt.
"With the funds attained through the capital increase, FCC will bolster its equity situation, reduce its debt and improve its results by substantially reducing its financial burdens," the company said in a statement.
Koplowitz, who inherited FCC from her father, a German immigrant who built a construction empire following Spain's 1936-1939 Civil War, had been in exclusive talks with billionaire investor George Soros but the talks broke down over the weekend.
Soros became a shareholder of FCC in January after acquiring about four percent of the struggling group.
Late last year Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, the world's richest man, paid just under 110 million euros for a 5.7 percent stake in the firm, which employs 80,000 people in 56 countries.
Slim, who owns minority stakes in Saks Fifth Avenue and The New York Times, will invest 150 million euros to pay Koplowitz for the rights to subscribe to the offer and buy new FCC shares.
He will buy the new shares at an average price of around 9.75 euros each, including the rights, a deep discount from their closing price of 15.30 euros on Wednesday.
Under the terms of the deal Slim and Koplowitz will each appoint four members to FCC's 12-member board and they have agreed not to sell 85 percent of their shares for a minimum of four years.
A property boom lasting a decade had driven the construction company to invest heavily, but the market collapsed in 2008, leaving it with staggering debt which amounted to 6.43 billion euros at the end of September 2014.
The company has sought to diversify its business into sectors other than construction and now gets most of its earnings from environmental services such as waste management.
FCC posted a loss of 788.3 million euros in the first nine months of the year. A consortium led by the company in March won a contract worth 3.9 billion euros to build and operate part of the underground train network in Lima, Peru.
Last year it won a 6.07-billion-euro project to build three metro lines in Riyadh. Among its other worldwide projects, FCC is rebuilding the historic 1960s Gerald Desmond bridge in Los Angeles and a metro in Panama, the first in Central America.
Slim has a fortune worth 79.7 billion dollars, making him the world's second-richest man after Gates, according to a ranking by Forbes magazine.
His America Movil has telecom operations in 18 countries in the Americas -- including prepaid wireless firm TracFone in the U.S. -- and 265 million mobile phone customers.
Slim also has his fingers in the retail, industrial and financial sectors in Mexico through controlling interests in industrial conglomerate Grupo Carso and financial firm Grupo Financiero Inbursa.


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