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Spain's Criteria looking to sell stake in $1.3 bln car park group Saba - sources

Andrés González

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MADRID, April 29 (Reuters) - Criteria, the holding company of CaixaBank, is looking to sell a stake in car park group Saba in a deal that could value Saba at up to 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion) including debt, according to five sources with knowledge of the matter.

Three of the sources said Criteria planned to hire investment advisory boutique AZ Capital to manage the sale of Saba, which reported preliminary 2018 core earnings of 118 million euros.

Concessions and multi-story car parks like those owned by Saba are attracting private equity, infrastructure and pension funds thanks to the steady returns they generate.

"The bidding process will be quite open. Bidders could make offers for a majority or a minority stake," said one source who took part at an earlier stage of the process.

Criteria and Saba declined to comment. AZ Capital did not respond to a request for comment.

Despite a reduction in car ownership in cities, several such deals have been completed since 2017.

Private equity firm Ardian also said last month it was in talks with infrastructure funds to sell its stake in French car park operator Indigo.

Criteria took full control of Saba last year, paying 438 million euros for the 49.9 per cent it did not already own from investment funds KKR, Proa and Torreal.

Soon after raising its stake, Criteria banked a 150 million euro dividend from Saba. It supports Saba with two credit agreements worth 590 million euros.

Saba handles 378,000 parking spaces and 1,175 car parks in nine countries. It bought assets from Indigo in Britain, Germany, Slovakia and Czech Republic in 2018.

($1 = 0.8956 euros) (Reporting by Andres Gonzalez, Editing by Isla Binnie and Mark Potter)