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Abertis Exec Discusses Possible Hispasat Deal

By | August 3, 2007

      Abertis, a Spanish infrastructure company, has firmly set its sights on Spanish satellite operator Hispasat. In its results issued August 2, the company announced that its subsidiary, Abertis Telecom, “has been in talks” with Hispasat’s private investors with a view to buying their stakes, although Abertis admitted that “nothing formal had been agreed.”

      In an Aug. 2 interview, Martinez was optimistic that a deal would be forthcoming. “We think that an agreement on Hispasat is feasible and reasonable,” he said. “It would cover the expectation of the different parties and stakeholders involved, in order to allow the full deployment of Hispasat’s industrial project. This would allow the Spanish aerospace industry to maintain a solid footprint within a sector which operates at the edge of the innovation and technology.”

      Abertis is fast becoming a major player in the satellite sector. Abertis Telecom concluded a deal earlier this year to take a 32 percent stake in Eutelsat through a deal costing Abertis more than 1 billion euros ($1.37 billion). Its move for Hispasat indicates a desire to differentiate itself in the global satellite industry. With Eutelsat holding a near 30 percent stake in Hispasat, the two companies appear to be edging closer together.

      Martinez would not surmise when a deal for Hispasat could be done, or whether he felt the stance of the Spanish government could impact the deal. “There is no specific time framework for an announcement,” he said. “Contacts are being held on a sustained basis with all the parties involved including the Spanish government. We are convinced that the arguments supporting Abertis’s industrial case for Hispasat will demonstrate themselves as a good alternative for the Spanish satellite operator, and thus any specific hurdles or worries that may arise will be overcome.”

      It seems clear that Abertis views Hispasat as a key piece toward developing its satellite aspirations. Martinez said “Abertis’s bet for the telecom business is a strategic and long term-oriented one. We have a project for Abertis Telecom in order to develop the company as a benchmark in the management of telecom infrastructure in Europe and worldwide. This implies the need to find the right balance between industrial fit, complementary assets, as well a strong presence across different geographies. These conditions are being met by both Eutelsat and Hispasat. They complement each other on a technical and geographical basis. They also complement our existing transmission network. Our strategy is to become a major global player in the telecom infrastructure business.”

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