ACS nears sale of ports division to JPMorgan

The long-running sale of ACS’ ports division – which had revenues of €114m in 2008 – appears to be nearing its conclusion.

Spanish construction group ACS is close to selling part of its ports division – Dragados Spl – to JPMorgan, a source familiar with the negotiations said. The person did not detail a timeline for the sale.

Both parties have been in negotiations for the past year but JPMorgan is now only interested in acquiring the division’s Spanish ports, which account for the majority of the unit’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), the source said. Dragados operates several ports in Spain including Bilbao, Malaga, Valencia and Las Palmas, among others. Internationally, it operates ports in Brasil, China, Chile, Dominican Republic and Portugal.

Valencia performs the best among the Spanish ports, according to press reports, having recorded revenues of €114 million in 2008. The reports suggest JPMorgan is seeking a €200 million bank loan to recapitalise the port, but progress has been slow as banks continue to fear the impact of the crisis on world trade.

ACS originally launched the sale of its ports division in late 2008 and was said to be seeking over €1 billion for it. Last December, it sold a 24 percent stake in an Indian container terminal to Gammon Infrastructure. The sales are part of its ongoing efforts to cut net debt, which stood at €9.3 billion at the end of September 2009.

ACS was unavailable to comment for this story at press time.