ACS says welcomes offer for talks with Hochtief

FRANKFURT (BestGrowthStock) – Spain’s ACS (ACS.MC: ) said it hopes Hochtief (HOTG.DE: ) talks start as soon as possible after its German rival said it was open for dialogue, a sign that frosty relations between the construction companies are thawing.

ACS, headed by Real Madrid soccer club president Florentino Perez has not sat down for talks with Hochtief despite launching a formal bid for control of Hochtief on December 1.

“We welcome that Hochtief responds positively to our offer for talks which we have made several times over the past couple of months,” a spokeswoman for ACS said on Sunday.

“We expect talks to begin as soon as possible. It will be crucial for both parties to treat the talks with utmost confidentiality,” she added.

Upon being asked whether there is already a date for talks, a Hochtief spokeswoman said, “We are currently concentrating on our (regulatory: ) statement to shareholders.”

As part of German takeover rules, the management and supervisory board must make a formal recommendation to shareholders whether or not to accept a takeover offer.

The statement is expected to be published in the coming week, in line with the deadline set by markets regulator BaFin.

Hochtief told German weekly magazine Der Spiegel that it does not regard the takeover bid by Spanish builder ACS as hostile and will agree to talks with them “as a shareholder.

Hochtief management reacted to the ACS bid by seeking authority from its board of directors to explore measures to fend off ACS, and by selling a 9.1 percent stake to the emirate of Qatar.

ACS saw its 29.9 percent Hochtief stake diluted to around 27 percent after the move.

Hochtief Chief Executive Herbert Luetkestratkoetter said he is skeptical about a strategy which relies on merely combining the portfolios of ACS and Hochtief to achieve economies of scale and better regional diversification.

“Size alone is not an advantage. It’s about know-how. It’s about having a presence in economically attractive parts of the world. Hochtief is in a good position. I cannot see where ACS can help us,” he told Der Spiegel.

(Reporting by Edward Taylor; Editing by Louise Heavens)

ACS says welcomes offer for talks with Hochtief