Gates move lifts hopes for Spanish builders

Microsoft co-founder bets on construction; Investment in FCC sees its shares rise sharply

Bill Gates: José Manuel Soria, Spain’s industry minister, told Spanish radio yesterday that the Gates’ investment demonstrated that the country’s economy now generated “greater confidence and credibility”

Bill Gates: José Manuel Soria, Spain’s industry minister, told Spanish radio yesterday that the Gates’ investment demonstrated that the country’s economy now generated “greater confidence and credibility”

 


Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has made a big bet on the recovery of Spain’s construction sector by becoming the second-largest shareholder in FCC, a Spanish builder hit hard by the collapse of a decade-long property bubble five years ago.

Shares in FCC, whose main shareholder is the heiress and philanthropist Esther Koplowitz, rose almost 10 per cent yesterday to €17.20 after the company said it had sold 6 per cent of its treasury shares to funds connected to Mr Gates for €113.5 million.

Spain’s government was quick to link the investment with rising confidence in the country’s economy, with Madrid having recently raised its growth forecasts for next year in an expected exit from recession.

José Manuel Soria, Spain’s industry minister, told Spanish radio yesterday that the Gates’ investment demonstrated that the country’s economy now generated “greater confidence and credibility”.

The shares were sold at €14.86 each, a discount of 4.5 per cent to Monday’s closing price of €15.56.

Mr Gates, through a spokesman, confirmed the investment but declined to comment further.

Spain’s large construction groups became symbols of their country’s crisis after expanding rapidly during a decade of cheap credit and a building boom that collapsed from 2008 onwards.

With Spain’s total spending on public works tumbling from €39.8 billion in 2008 to €7 billion last year these companies have been forced to refinance large debts and sell assets, while at the same time moving quickly to internationalise their businesses to compensate for the collapse of their domestic market.
– Copyright: The Financial Times Limited 2013