July 19, 2017 / 9:54 AM / 2 years ago

Spain's Aena says state shareholder prevented a bid for Abertis

The logo of Spanish airports operator Aena is seen on the top of a welcoming sign outside Adolfo Suarez Barajas airport in Madrid, Spain, March 9, 2016. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish airports operator Aena (AENA.MC) was prevented by its state shareholder Enaire from making a bid for toll-road concessions company Abertis ABE.MC, the company said on Wednesday.

Trading in Abertis and Aena’s shares was suspended before the market opened after a report in newspaper Expansion said that the airport operator had looked at making a bid for Abertis.

However, the newspaper also said, that the government had said ‘no’ to a takeover by Aena as it would have effectively nationalised Abertis.

Aena later confirmed in a statement to the market regulator that the boards of Aena and Abertis had discussed a possible takeover but Enaire, Spain’s state-owned air traffic services company which also owns 51 percent of Aena, had rejected the idea.

Trading restarted in the shares of both companies at 0900 GMT, with Abertis down 0.03 percent at 16.41 euros and Aena up 1.13 percent at 170 euros at 0940 GMT.

Italy’s Atlantia ALT.MI made a takeover bid for Abertis in May for 16.5 euros (14.59 pounds) per share, though the Spanish company has said it will not respond to the offer until it has been approved by the regulator, a process which usually takes two or three months.

The Italian infrastructure company wants support from Abertis shareholders representing at least 50 percent of the equity plus one share, which has turned the spotlight on Criteria Caixa, the biggest shareholder in Abertis with a 22.3 percent stake.

Criteria Caixa is a holding company which controls Spanish lender Caixabank (CABK.MC).

Reporting by Paul Day; Editing by Louise Heavens, Greg Mahlich

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