Criteria to Make a Decision Regarding the Remaining 49% Stake in Saba on 24 May

23 May 2018 – Expansión 

Tomorrow (Thursday 24 May), the Board of Directors of Criteria, the investment arm of La Caixa, will make a decision regarding the future of Saba, the parking lot group of which it is a controlling shareholder, with a 51% stake. Criteria must decide whether to purchase the remaining 49% share capital currently in the hands of KKR, Torreal and ProA Capital or, by contrast, accept an offer for the purchase of 100% of the company chaired by Salvador Alemany.

According to sources close to the operation, Criteria’s position will be to emerge as the buyer, once the economic estimate of the asset has been made known, whose valuation ranges between €1.2 billion and €1.4 billion.

The investment by La Caixa’s industrial holding company will put an end to the period of uncertainty that the company has been experiencing since Torreal (20%), KKR (18.5%) and ProA (10.5%) agreed to sell their combined 49% stake in a coordinated way more than a year ago. Saba’s minority shareholders have forced this outcome. According to the shareholders’ agreements, the drag-along clause was activated in May, which means that any of the shareholders may require the sale of 100% of the company. KKR, ProA and Torreal notified La Caixa of their intention to find a buyer. According to sources consulted, Criteria has expressed its willingness to buy at the estimated prices. Several funds have also expressed their interest in Saba. As Expansión revealed in November 2017, Arcus was one of the first funds to propose an agreement. In the market, sources also point to Macquarie, which purchased Empark last year.

For Criteria, which has declined to comment, the investment in Saba would represent its first major buy-side move since it sold 10% of Gas Natural Fenosa to the fund GIP in 2016 for around €1.8 billion and following its exit this month from Abertis, after accepting the joint takeover bid presented by ACS and Atlantia. For its 18% stake in the highway group, Criteria has received more than €3 billion, which it will use to fund new investments.

The conversations have accelerated in recent weeks to the point that Saba had to postpone its General Shareholders’ Meeting. Originally, it had been convened for 9 May, but it has been postponed until 12 June pending an agreement between the shareholders.

Original story: Expansión (by C.M., M.P.L. and A.Z.)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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