CriteriaCaixa, the investment holding company of the La Caixa Banking Foundation, announced this Friday the purchase of 9.4% of the construction company ACS, chaired by Florentino Pérez. The operation involves a disbursement of 983 million euros and is based on the current and future strength of ACS, its internationalization, its weight in the market and its dividend policy, all aligned with Criteria’s long-term strategy, immersed in a rearrangement of your investments.

The holding company chaired by Isidro Fainé and which has Ángel Simón as CEO did not have a stake in ACS until now. It frames the purchase in its investment policy by which it “selects leading companies in highly attractive sectors, with the capacity for growth and generation of value.” With his entry, Criteria will propose to the board of directors to appoint Fainé as a proprietary director, becoming the second largest shareholder, only behind Florentino Pérez, who has 14.50%, according to official ACS records. 

The rest of the capital then includes Blackrock with 6.11% between direct participations and financial instruments, and the companies Invernelin Patrimony (2.35%), Percacer (1.52%) and Comercio y Finanzas (1.10%). , all linked to businessmen Alberto Cortina and Alberto Alcocer. After the purchase was announced, the securities were trading slightly higher, after starting the day with falls.

Criteria thus continues to pivot its portfolio of industrial holdings in large corporations in crucial sectors of the economy, from telecommunications to beauty. In the last two months it has been known that he will once again be the largest shareholder of Colonial, with up to 17% of the capital; that plans to reach 10% in Telefónica by doubling its participation; the negotiation for the entry of the Emirati Taqa into Naturgy and then launch a joint takeover bid; and the purchase of 3.05% of the perfumery, fashion and cosmetics firm Puig within the framework of its IPO.

Now he is opting for the construction giant, which in 2023 had a turnover of 35.7 billion euros, with a project portfolio of 73.5 billion and 135,000 employees around the planet. Its profit reached 780 million last year, 17% more, and the strategic plan contemplates reaching 1,000 million in 2026.

“ACS is a global infrastructure operator and provider, made up of leading companies in the development, engineering, construction and operation of essential infrastructure projects, as well as new generation solutions,” Criteria says in a note. Its subsidiaries stand out in the US (Turner), Australia (Cimic) or Germany (Hochtief) and the ownership of Abertis together with Mundys (formerly Atlantia and which owns 50% plus one share, for 50% minus one share of ACS). It also has Iridium or Dragados.

The operation focuses on the current strength of ACS, as well as the reorientation of the business it is having. “It has developed a new structure and focus on new growing sectors, such as technology and digitalization, the energy transition, sustainable mobility and critical minerals. “This is a commitment to sectors that are of interest to CriteriaCaixa,” explains the entity. Added to this is the “stable and growing” dividend, which fits with the strategy of seeking long-term investments that maximize dividend yield.

Criteria also highlights geographical diversification as one of the factors that support the operation. It points out its “special presence in areas with great growth potential, such as North America, Asia-Pacific and Europe.”

ACS presented results a couple of weeks ago. The company posted a 9% higher profit, with a profit of 177 million euros in the first quarter. The main driving force is the American subsidiary, which shows once again the strong internationalization of the group. The group’s current portfolio is mainly concentrated in the United States, with 51% of the projects, with 21% in Australia. Spain represents 8%.