BUSINESS

FCC to reduce debt by 2015 through sale of assets

Construction group looking to return to profits in 2015

Spanish construction and services group FCC, in which Microsoft cofounder Bill gates has just acquired a 6-percent stake, is planning to reduce its debt levels by 2015 through the sale of assets.

The company, which is chaired by Spanish businesswoman Esther Alcocer Koplowitz, currently has debt of 6 billion euros, of which 5 billion is due this year and the next. FCC wants to reduce its total debt level to under 5 billion in the next two years.

The deal with Gates, who paid 115 million euros for 6 percent of FCC’s treasury stock, could smooth refinancing talks with the company’s main creditor banks, with which the construction group met last week. The so-called G-6 -- Santander, BBVA, Caixabank, Popular, Sabadell and Bankia – hold 70 percent of FCC’s debt. FCC now plans to meet with the rest of its 37 creditor banks to discuss its plan with a view to reaching an agreement with lenders holding at least 75 percent of its debt.

Apart from debt restructuring, FCC’s business plan includes the sale of assets worth some 2.7 billion euros, of which 2.2 billion are already in the pipeline and are expected to be sealed this year, FCC sources say. Amongst these are the units FCC Energía, FCC Logística and Cemusa. FCC is also looking to sell its real estate unit Realia, which is jointly owned with Bankia and its infrastructure subsidiary Globalvía.

The plan also aims for a return to profits in 2015. FCC booked a loss in 2012 of 1.1 billion euros, compared with a profit of 170 million a year earlier. It made a loss of 600 million euros in the first half of this year.

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