10 November 2017 – Expansión
The European parking lot market is at boiling point. Following the sale of Empark earlier this year to the Australian fund Macquarie, now comes the turn of Saba, the other Spanish leader in the sector, controlled by Criteria (La Caixa). According to financial sources consulted, the firms KKR, Torreal and ProA, which together own 49% of the company, have resumed the plan to sell their shares. Unlike in previous processes, on this occasion, the conversations with investors revolve around the sale of 100% of the company, given that, by agreement between the shareholders, they may force La Caixa to sell its controlling 50.1% stake.
According to preliminary estimates, the valuation of the company could reach €1,150 million. Until last December, the company’s financial debt amounted to €545 million. Sources at Saba declined to comment on the news.
The parking lot group closed 2016 with turnover of €222 million, compared to €225 million in 2015, when its revenues still reflected income from its logistics parks. The company, a spin-off of Abertis, constituted in 2011, obtained an EBITDA of €103 million and earned €4 million from its ordinary activity in 2016 (€32 million with the gains from the sale of its logistics business to the Socimi Merlin).
Two hundred thousand parking spaces
The group manages 195,000 parking spaces across Spain, Chile, Portugal and Italy and employs 1,400 people. Its last major operation was the contract it won in 2014, with a bid amounting to €234 million, to manage the parking lots in Barcelona through a joint venture with the city’s Town Hall.
Potential buyers for Saba include the large investment funds that specialise in infrastructures. Sources in the market say that the investment firm Arcus, which manages a portfolio of assets worth €17,000 million, is looking at this opportunity. KKR, Saba’s third-largest shareholder, purchased the parking lots of the Dutch firm Q-Park earlier this year for almost €3,000 million. Meanwhile, Ardian and Predica also put the French market leader Indigo up for sale this year; that company has strong interests in Spain and is worth around €3,000 million.
There have been other smaller transactions in Spain, such as the agreement signed by Oak Hill to acquire Isolux’s best parking lots and the sale of Parkia to First State for €300 million.
Saba, which is chaired by Salvador Alemany, suffered a major setback this summer after losing the bid for Empark. The parking lot group, whose vocation since its constitution has been to make its debut on the stock market, had wanted to absorb Empark to acquire critical mass for its stock market debut. But its offer was lower than the one presented by the Australians, which, according to the market, bid around €900 million.
Following that setback, the minority shareholders have reactivated the sales plan. Specifically, the shareholders’ agreement lapses in November and the funds have a drag along clause to force the other shareholders to sell. The timeframe for looking for interested investors runs until May 2018 and if Criteria does not want to sell, then it has the right of first refusal to buy the shares that it does not control at the same price agreed with the investor (…).
Original story: Expansión (by C. Morán, I. Abril and M. Ponce de León)
Translation: Carmel Drake