(Reuters) Bidders line up offers for Portugal’s largest motorway operator Brisa: sources

(Reuters) LISBON/MADRID (Reuters) – At least three infrastructure funds and a Spanish toll road operator are lining up offers for a stake in Portugal’s largest motorway manager Brisa, three sources with knowledge of the matter said.

The deal could value the company at between 4 to 5 billion euros including debt, the sources said on condition of anonymity.

Funds focused on infrastructure investments are eager to deploy capital after raising billions of dollars to deploy in businesses with recurrent cash flows against a background of low interest rates and narrowing yields.

France’s Ardian and Australia’s Macquarie and IFM are among infrastructure investors preparing offers for Brisa, along with Spanish firm GlobalVia, which would only bid for full control of the company owned by Britain’s Arcus and Portugal’s Jose de Mello Group, the sources said.

Arcus, which owns 20.7% of Brisa, is actively looking to cash out and is working with Morgan Stanley and BCP to sell its stake.

But it is not clear whether Jose de Mello Group, which is represented by Rothschild, would also sell its stake.

“If Arcus presses ahead with the sale, then Jose de Mello group will need to evaluate a joint process,” said a source familiar with the matter.

Ardian, Macquarie, IFM, and Jose de Mello Group declined to comment. Arcus was not immediately available to comment.

The de Mello family has a 33% direct stake in Brisa and Tagus Holding — 55% owned by Jose de Mello Investimentos and 45% by Arcus — a 44% stake.

“A joint sale would mean the sale of a controlling stake and the premium that the buyer would pay would be higher,” the source added.

Brisa operates 1,628 km of highway in Portugal in a network of 17 motorways, 6 complementary routes and 6 national roads. Its main concession, BCR — comprised of 12 motorways covering 1,014 km of toll roads — will end in 2035.

Brisa’s operating profit (Ebitda) was 554 million euros in 2018, with a net financial debt of 1.7 billion euros.