Infrastructure news

• German infrastructure and construction group Hochtief saw its shares rise by 7% to a five-year high of €61.80 last week, valuing the company at €4.3bn, after rumours of a takeover attempt by Macquarie Bank. German weekly Wirtschaftswoche, cited unnamed sources close to the board as saying that US construction group Bechtel planned to back the Australian bank if it launched a takeover bid for Hochtief with the aim of breaking the business up.

The report claimed that Bechtel would like to acquire Hochtief’s US-based subsidiary Turner, while US-based real estate and construction group Toll Brothers was interested in the real estate assets of Turner.

Furthermore, US-based construction group Bucyrus is said to be interested in Hochtief’s Australian subsidiary Leighton. The report claimed that Macquarie planned to acquire a 25% stake from private investor August von Finck, who had been looking for a buyer. In 2005, Macquarie failed to acquire Hochtief in a takeover attempt. Part of the reason for the failure was believed to be Hochtief’s decision to put its stakes in airports into a joint venture with financial investors. In December 2006, Hochtief raised its stake in Hamburg Airport to 49% from 39.2%. The deal included the acquisition of Irish state owned Aer Lingus’ 3% stake in the airport.

The Aer Lingus stake was held as part of a joint venture with Hochtief and was sold on the triggering of a call option. Aer Lingus received about €30m, according to a source close to the deal, implying a €1bn value for the airport.

• Several hedge funds holding Techem shares intend to block Macquarie’s and BC Partners’ €55 per share €1.36bn offer for Techem, Germany’s listed provider of energy and water meter reading and billing services, Boersen Zeitung reported. Macquarie and BC partners, previously bidding rivals for Techem, joined forces earlier this month to back Macquarie subsidiary MEIF II Energie Beteiligungen’s hostile takeover bid. An unnamed manager at Elliot Associates, which reportedly holds a 5.63% Techem stake together with the Liverpool Ltd partnership, told the newspaper the offer was insufficient. The manager added that it was unlikely that Macquarie and BC Partners would be able to obtain the 70.5% stake in the company they set as the minimum acceptance rate. Their joint bid for Techem expires this week.