Go Madrid! The curious message of congratulations from José Antonio Barrio, one of the two shareholders who spoke at the ACS meeting held this morning, can summarize the tone of the meeting. Despite the fact that his was an intervention to disfigure the fact that his 1,000 shares that he had bought in 2007 have lost 30% of profitability and ask that dividends be raised, he ended up praising the management of the company, which last year experienced one of those historical exercises: it obtained a profit of 3,045 million after recording the juicy capital gains generated by the sale of its industrial division, Cobra, to the French firm Vinci and that has left the company’s cash full for future operations. Florentino Pérez, the president, pointed this out in his review of the year plagued with growing figures: 27,837 million euros in sales (53% from the US, 19% from Australia and 11% from Spain); a record portfolio of 67,262 million, 11.3% more, and a “very positive evolution of contracting” that is reflected in “a solid generation of cash”.
The sale of Cobra converted the more than 2,000 million debt they had a year before into 2,009 million cash. And with that liquidity they presented last April the takeover bid for Atlantia, his partner in Abertis. A move that opened a tough battle for the company allied with Brookfield and GIP against the Benetton family and Blackstone.
The German subsidiary of ACS, Hochtief, also launched a takeover bid to acquire 21.4% of the capital that it does not yet control of its subsidiary in Australia, Cimic, for a total amount of 940 million euros.
But all eyes were on the takeover bid for the Italian motorway concessionaire Atlantia. The operation is far from over, but Pérez avoided referring to it before the shareholders and focused on “a more demanding future in concentrating resources and efforts to strengthen the portfolio of concessions.” The almost 5,000 that the group received for the operation are still a powerful weapon to buy. “Construction and concessions are closely linked. The sale of industrial services to Vinci in December is the most relevant strategic milestone in recent years”, Pérez highlighted. “The first objective is the reinvestment in the development of concession assets to obtain assets with casflow more recurrent. To this end we are going to use the two levers we have: Iridium and Abertis, concentrating on strategic markets”. Beyond that, he only mentioned that they are also looking at various opportunities to buy toll roads in the United States that they hope to announce soon.
The capital gain of Cobra (2,909 million) has also served to underpin the dividend, of two euros per share. Their strategy also revolves around investing in clean energy assets (for which they already have a joint venture with Vinci).
He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.