* To buy Enterprise for 385 mln pounds from 3i Group
* First major acquisition since BAA in 2006
* Doubles presence in British services sector
* Shares down 0.7 percent
By Tracy Rucinski
MADRID, Feb 21 Ferrovial is to buy
British utility services company Enterprise Plc for 385 million
pounds ($589 million) from 3i Group, the Spanish
infrastructure group's first major purchase after a long
The company has been selling assets since a 2006 deal to buy
control of British airports operator BAA - now Heathrow Airport
Holdings - came unstuck during the global financial crisis, as
was the case with many transactions done before the crash.
Ferrovial said on Thursday that Enterprise, which will be
integrated within British unit Amey, will double its presence in
the British services sector.
Fresh from a string of asset sales - including stakes in
BAA, Ferrovial started 2013 with a 1.5 billion euro ($2.0
billion) net cash position, giving it scope to expand or return
cash to shareholders.
"This acquisition strengthens its footprint in the UK, where
Ferrovial has a good knowledge of the services business," N+1
Equities analyst Jose Ramon Ocina said.
Analysts said the acquisition price - 6.4 times EV/EBITDA, a
measure of relative value - looked reasonable and highlighted
potential synergies, which Ferrovial estimated at 40 million
Ferrovial shares, up 7 percent so far this year, were down
0.7 percent at 11.89 euros at 1000 GMT, outperforming a 1.4
percent lower Madrid blue-chip index.
The company has relied increasingly on business outside
Spain to shield it from a deep recession that has weighed on its
construction and services arms at home.
"This acquisition fits with our strategic objective of
profitable growth through selective acquisitions and it enables
us to expand our services business," chief executive Inigo
Completion of the Enterprise deal was expected by end-April
once European Commission approval has been granted.
Enterprise reported 2012 revenue of 1.1 billion pounds,
excluding its joint venture with Mouchel for highway maintenance
services, which will not be included in the acquisition,