Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Italian construction firm's Endesa buy seen as first step in business diversification

Acciona's Endesa buy seen as first step in new push

MADRID, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Acciona SA's swoop for 10 percent of Endesa is just the first step in a new push by the conglomerate to move further away from construction and into energy, analysts said on Tuesday, welcoming the move.

Like other Spanish companies, Acciona has raked up billions of euros in a decade-long construction boom, but has been steadily diversifying into services and renewable energy to avoid being hit if the housing bubble bursts.

Late on Monday it surprised the market by saying it had bought 10 percent of Endesa for 3.4 billion euros ($4.3 billion), adding it could raise its stake to up to 24.9 percent.

At 32 euros per share, the price was well above the 25.405 euros per share that German utility E.ON AG has offered for the whole of Endesa.

"The price would have looked excessive a few months ago but it's all relative. Looking at the sector, it's not out of the ordinary and Endesa's business plan and dividends should cover the financial costs," said Gonzalo Moros at Ahorro Corporacion.

"This 10 percent isn't the end of the story but rather the first step towards something bigger. They're obviously not going to buy at 32 euros and let a bid for 25.4 euros go through."

Analysts said the move would make Acciona a powerful player in the Spanish energy sector, where it has invested about 1.5 billion euros in renewable energy -- an area the government is pushing hard.

Here is the full article.