Giant Catalan infrastructure group Abertis has bought a 32% stake in French satellite operator Eutelsat Communication, listed on the Paris stock exchange.
Stake, valued at E1.07 billion ($1.43 billion), was purchased Tuesday from a group of financial investors including Goldman Sachs, Texas Pacific, Spectrum and Cinven. Price paid was $20.60 a share, 30¢ below Monday’s closing price for Eutelsat stock.
Abertis is now the biggest shareholder in Eutelsat, which operates 23 satellites servicing 3,000 TV stations.
The group may have its eye on a prize closer to home: Eutelsat’s 27.7% shareholding in Hispasat. Through its Eutelsat stake, Abertis now has a 9% stake in the Spanish satellite op.
Abertis has long been kicking Hispasat’s tires, but the Spanish government, alleging Hispasat is a company of national strategic importance, has blocked Abertis’ attempts to buy direct equity in Hispasat from shareholders BBVA, a bank, and telcos Auna and Telefonica.
Abertis has now got a handle on Hispasat, just as rumors mount that the hot bird will be used to give a much-needed fillip to digital terrestrial television in Spain, beaming a bouquet of channels with low distribution costs and improving DTT reach in the country.
That move could come with government blessing — and coin — hiking the value of Hispasat and producing closer ties between Abertis and the Spanish government.