Hispasat’s Largest Stakeholder Unloads Its Last Eutelsat Shares

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PARIS — Spanish toll-road and telecommunications infrastructure owner Abertis on June 3 said it had sold the last of its equity stake in satellite fleet operator Eutelsat, a move that had been expected as Abertis focuses on its ownership of fleet operator Hispasat of Spain.

Hispasat and Eutelsat, while still tied through Eutelsat’s 33.69 percent ownership in the Spanish operator, are now just as often competitors as each seeks to expand in the other’s Latin American and the Middle East markets.

Madrid-based Abertis said the sale of a block of 11.027 million shares, or 5.01 percent of Eutelsat’s equity, was concluded with “qualified investors” and generated about 275 million euros ($375 million).

Abertis had begun disposing of its large Eutelsat stake in 2012, even as the company increased its ownership in Hispasat, in which it now owns a majority share of 57.05 percent.

The share sale caused Eutelsat’s stock to drop 3.7 percent in trading on the Paris-based Euronext market.

Eutelsat has not indicated whether it intends to unload its Hispasat holding, which has been a good investment as Hispasat has reported steady growth in revenue and profit, especially with the company’s expansion in to Latin America through its Amazonas satellites.

More recently, Hispasat struck a deal with satellite fleet operator Intelsat of Washington and Luxembourg to co-develop the 55.5 degrees west orbital position. Hispasat also won, at auction, rights to a Brazilian orbital position at 61 degrees west.

Eutelsat’s purchase late in 2013 of Satmex of Mexico signaled Eutelsat’s determination to turn its Latin American beachhead into a priority growth area. Hispasat officials had said they were caught short by the move.

Hispasat has been one of the bidders for Israeli satellite fleet operator Spacecom, a tit-for-tat acquisition that would place Hispasat into one of Eutelsat’s fastest-growing markets of the Middle East, South Asia and Africa.