19 May 2017 – Expansión
Empark is back on the market. The Portuguese controlling shareholders of the car park company have engaged JP Morgan to find a buyer for an entity worth around €850 million, on the basis of the prices and valuations of other similar transactions in the sector. Empark is the leading car park company in Spain with 500,000 parking spaces in the Iberian Peninsula, the United Kingdom and Turkey. The firm’s gross operating profit (EBITDA) amounts to €65 million and its debt, which the company has been restructuring over the last year, amounts to €475 million.
Following the most recent changes, Empark’s shareholder structure is still dominated by the Portuguese investors Silva & Silva, which own 78% of the company. The second largest shareholder is the Chinese conglomerate Haitong, with a 14% stake.
The company’s control vehicle is dominated by the founding families, who participate in the management of the group. The main executives of Empark are José Augusto Tavares, Pedro Mendes (Executive President) and Antonio Moura.
The last attempt to sell the company was made in 2015. Then, the company progressed to the stage of selecting a buyer, Vinci Park (Ardian), but the operation did not come to fruition. Vinci Park reported the breakdown in its negotiations to buy Empark in July of that year after finalising its due diligence work, which produced unsatisfactory findings. Ultimately, the company was concerned about Empark’s high exposure to town halls which, following the local elections held that year, were considering “re-municipalisation”.
Sources close to the fund Ardian say that they are not interested in the operation at the moment. The infrastructure investment giant put Indigo (formerly Vinci park) up for sale this year for around €3,000 million. The sale of Empark is quite complex, given that the shares of the car park company serve, in turn, to secure the shareholders’ personal loans.
According to sources close to the operation, the Portuguese shareholders have dragged the other shareholders into the sale and have been given until the beginning of October to find a buyer. They are keen to leverage the ‘drag along clause’ set out in the company’s shareholder agreements (which means that when a third party makes an offer to purchase the company by buying all of its share capital, then the shareholder that has the ‘drag along right’ may force the other shareholders to sell their stakes to the buyer).
Sources in the sector believe that if Pedro Mendes and his partners do not find an investor with a reasonable offer in time, Haitong may push ahead with the operation by itself or with one of Empark’s creditor banks. Deutsche Bank is one of the company’s latest lenders. The German bank manages the fund RREEF Infrastructure.
One of the possible candidates to analyse the purchase operation is the fund First State, which acquired España Parkia from the Nordic fund EQT and Mutua Madrileña in 2016 for just over €300 million. The US fund Alinda is also very active in Spain. It has made an offer to buy Isolux’s car park portfolio. Another candidate could be the Chinese firm Haitong
Original story: Expansión (by C. Morán)
Translation: Carmel Drake