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UPDATE 2-Spain's FCC to focus on core business, refinance Realia
March 20, 2013 / 11:57 AM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 2-Spain's FCC to focus on core business, refinance Realia

* FCC unveils details of new three-year strategy

* New plan includes asset sales and job cuts to lift profits

* Expects to sign 3-year refinancing deal on Realia debt (Adds Realia debt refinancing)

By Andrés González

MADRID, March 20 (Reuters) - Spanish building group FCC aims to refinance debt at its Realia property arm ahead of its planned sale, the first step in the group’s new strategy to cut costs and focus on its core infrastructure and environmental businesses.

Presenting a new three-year strategic plan on Wednesday, FCC said it would sell assets outside its core infrastructure and environmental services business to cut debt by a third to 5.2 billion euros and boost profits.

Realia, in which FCC shares ownership with nationalised lender Bankia, is one of the assets up for sale, along with its concession and energy businesses.

But Realia had 2.17 billion euros ($2.8 billion) of debt at the end of 2012.

“We’re in the final stages of reaching a deal, which we expect by March 27, to refinance debt for three years,” FCC’s financial director Victor Pastor said.

Realia’s property portfolio is worth 3.5 billion euros, with 41 percent belonging to its French unit Siic de Paris.

FCC’s new chief executive Juan Bejar said the sale of Realia would be undertaken in coordination with Bankia, which is also under pressure to sell assets and cut debt in return for the European aid it received last year.

COMPANY REVAMP

Bejar, an infrastructure expert who used to run Ferrovial’s tollway operator Cintra, was brought in to boost earnings after years of falling profits at FCC, which is 54 percent owned by one of Spain’s richest women, construction heiress Esther Koplowitz.

Koplowitz’s daughter Esther Alcocer was appointed as chairwoman in a management reshuffle at the start of the year, replacing Baldomero Falcones.

FCC expects its new strategy, which includes cost cutting moves such as the shedding of 1,000 jobs in the construction industry in Spain, to boost annual earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) by nearly two thirds to 1.2 billion euros over the three-year period.

FCC had also said earlier this month it would write down 1.1 billion euros of losses linked to construction activities in central and eastern Europe and investments in real estate and energy companies.

The company’s debt currently stands at 7.9 billion euros, including its energy business, or more than seven times its market capitalisation.

Shares in FCC, which closed 0.4 percent higher at 8.554 euros on Wednesday, have fallen 90 percent since the height of the construction boom in 2007, valuing the company at less than 1.1 billion euros. ($1=0.7760 euros) (Additional reporting by Sonya Dowsett; Writing by Tracy Ruciski; Editing by Julien Toyer and Greg Mahlich)

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